Cameroon, YAOUNDE – Hosts Cameroon and Gambia are through to the quarter-final stage at the on-going African Cup of Nations Cameroon 2021.
Cameroon made heavy work of beating 10-man Comoros Islands 2-1 Monday to advance to the AFCON quarter-finals at the expense of a team who had everything stacked against them in the last 16.
Star forward Musa Barrow scored on 71 minutes to take debutants Gambia, the lowest ranked team at AFCON 2021, into the quarter-finals Monday with a 1-0 victory over Guinea in Bafoussam.
Cameroon will meet upstarts Gambia in the last eight in Douala on Saturday.
Cameroon stuns Comoros
Hosts Cameroon is through to the quarter finals of AFCON 2021 following an eventful 2-1 victory over Comoros.
The Comoros started with left-back Chaker Alhadhur between the posts in Yaounde after two of their three goalkeepers were ruled out due to Covid-19 while the other was missing due to injury.
They then had captain Nadjim Abdou sent off after just seven minutes, and Karl Toko-Ekambi put Cameroon in front before skipper Vincent Aboubakar netted his sixth goal of the tournament.
Despite that it was a heroic performance from the Comoros, who kept the tie alive until the end thanks to Youssouf M’Changama’s stunning late free-kick.
The Indomitable Lions keep their dream of winning the Cup of Nations on home soil alive as they advance to a last-eight tie against Gambia on Saturday, yet this was the Comoros’ night, despite the outcome.
The Indian Ocean island nation qualified for the last 16 in their first ever appearance at the Cup of Nations after finishing as one of the best third-placed teams in the group stage.
However, their dream turned to a nightmare as a total of 12 players and staff tested positive for Covid-19 two days before the tie, including goalkeepers Ali Ahamada and Moyadh Ousseini.
Their other goalkeeper, Salim Ben Boina, was injured but they had hoped Ahamada would be able to start after he tested negative on the day of the game.
The 30-year-old Ahamada flew from Garoua, where he had been isolating, to Yaounde on Monday afternoon in the hope of being able to play, only for the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to decide otherwise as his positive result had come just two days earlier.
Alhadhur, a reserve left-back for French Ligue 2 side Ajaccio, wore the gloves, with tape used to mark out his number three on the back of his goalkeeper’s jersey.
It was a farcical scene, and the Comoros’ plight worsened when Abdou was shown a straight red card for a foul on Moumi Ngamaleu after the Ethiopian referee went to review images of his challenge.
Rather than give up, the Comoros kept going and they only fell behind in the 29th minute when Aboubakar teed up Toko-Ekambi to slot home.
The islanders, whose coach Amir Abdou was among those missing after testing positive, almost equalised shortly after as Ahmed Mogni forced Cameroon goalkeeper Andre Onana into a fine save.
Aboubakar had a second-half effort disallowed for offside before making it 2-0 with 20 minutes left, finishing excellently after being picked out by Martin Hongla, AFP reported.
Yet there was no collapse from the Comoros, who pulled one back courtesy of M’Changama’s piledriver from 35 metres and go out with their heads held high.
Gambia beats Guinea
Musa Barrow’s strike in the second half gave Gambia a historic 1-0 win over Guinea to qualify for the AFCON 2021 quarter-finals at the Stade Omnisports de Bafoussam on Monday.
Barrow scored with a close-range shot to end the stalemate in a cagey last-16 affair at the Stade Kouekong that was dominated by the rival defences.
Both teams finished a man short with Gambian Yusupha Njie dismissed on 88 minutes and Guinean Ibrahima Conte red-carded in added time.
Gambia was forced to change both full-backs shortly before the kick-off when Ibou Touray and Saidy Janko were ruled out by food poisoning.
Dawda Ngum and veteran Pa Modou Jagne were promoted to the starting line-up ahead of the biggest match in the history of Gambian football.
Guinea lacked talisman and Captain Naby Keita, the Liverpool midfielder, who was serving a one-match suspension after being yellow-carded in two group matches.
There was a huge gap in the experience of the two coaches with Tom Saintfiet of Gambia in charge of his 10th national team while Kaba Diawara of Guinea was recently appointed a head coach for the first time.
After a cautious start, Gambia was first to threaten when Musa Barrow stung the fingers of Guinea goalkeeper Aly Keita with a long-range shot that was parried to safety.
Mohamed Bayo had two chances to put Guinea ahead after 38 minutes, but his attempts to score were blocked by defender James Gomez and then goalkeeper Baboucarr Gaye.
In added time at the end of the opening half Ebrima Darboe unleashed a cross-cum-shot that flew across the goalmouth and out of play.
Although Guinea is ranked 69 places higher than Gambia in the world, there was nothing to choose between the sides after the opening half in the western Cameroon highlands.
The tempo increased as the second half progressed but defences remained dominant with goalkeepers Keita and Gaye rarely troubled.
Gambia went ahead when Musa Barrow latched on to a defence-splitting Yusupha Bobb pass, held off a Guinean and struck a left-foot shot past Keita.
Guinea thought they had equalised after 77 minutes when Conte pushed a cross into the net at the back post, but joy turned to frustration as his effort was ruled offside.
Gambia were pegged back in the closing minutes after substitute Njie was sent off for a second yellow card and Guinea hit the woodwork twice in added time and had a penalty appeal rejected.
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