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AFCON matchday preview: Cameroon and Cape Verde aim to seal progress

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 12 Jan 2022

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Africa Cup of Nations hosts Cameroon are back in action as the second matches of the group stage get under way.

Thursday sees Group A take centre stage, with Cameroon facing Ethiopia and Cape Verde taking on Burkina Faso.

Cameroon, champions in 2017, of course have the aim of going all the way on home soil to claim their sixth AFCON title. A win, combined with victory for Cape Verde, would see both progress to the knockout stage with a game to spare.

Cameroon v Ethiopia (16:00 GMT)

Cameroon are ranked 50th in the world by FIFA, making them the seventh-best side in the competition, but tournament hosts always have that extra impetus to go all the way.

Captain Vincent Aboubakar scored both of Cameroon’s goals in a 2-1 win over Burkina Faso in their opening match, and victory over Ethiopia – who the Indomitable Lions beat 3-2 in their only previous AFCON encounter in 1970 – will take them through.

Ethiopia are looking to bounce back from their 1-0 loss to Cape Verde. They are winless in their last nine AFCON matches (D3 L6), the longest current such run among teams in this year’s competition.

Cameroon, meanwhile, are unbeaten in their previous seven group stage games (W3 D4), last losing in January 2015 (0-1 against Ivory Coast). The five-time champions are aiming to win their opening two games at an AFCON for the first time since 2006. 

One to watch: Vincent Aboubakar

Former Porto forward Aboubakar was Cameroon’s Mr Reliable with two penalties in their comeback win over Burkina Faso. Having now scored in his last two AFCON appearances, he will become the first player to net in three consecutive games in the tournament for the Indomitable Lions since Samuel Eto’o in January 2008 (five in total) if he scores on Thursday.

Cape Verde v Burkina Faso (19:00 GMT)

While most of the attention will be on Cameroon, Cape Verde can also book their passage on Thursday.

Cape Verde saw off Ethiopia thanks to Julio Tavares’ first-half goal, while Burkina Faso were downed by Aboubakar’s two penalties in the space of eight minutes.

This will be the first AFCON encounter between the nations, with Cape Verde looking to remain unbeaten in their opening two games for the third straight tournament, having also done so in their two previous participations (two draws in both 2013 and 2015).

Burkina Faso, meanwhile, are looking to avoid suffering consecutive defeats in a single edition of the tournament since 2012, when they lost all three group matches.

With four of the best-ranked third-placed teams progressing to the knockout stage, Burkina Faso will surely go all out for victory to put themselves firmly in contention despite their opening defeat to Cameroon.

One to watch: Gustavo Sangare (Burkina Faso)

Sangare marked his AFCON debut with the opener against Cameroon and was a standout performer, creating a game-leading four chances. No Burkina Faso player has scored in successive AFCON matches since Alain Sibiri Traore in January 2013.

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