AFCON: Cameroon qualify for the next round of 16
Host Cameroon was the first team through to the knockout stages at the African Cup of Nations after coming from behind for the second time in two games to overwhelm Ethiopia 4-1 on Thursday.
The Indomitable Lions have indeed proved to be difficult to subdue, and captain Vincent Aboubakar scored another brace against Ethiopia to take his tally to four goals at the tournament.
Lyon forward Karl Toko Ekambi also got two for Cameroon, which hit the post three times and could have really embarrassed Ethiopia at Olembe Stadium in Yaounde.
Yet, Ethiopia’s Dawa Hotessa Dukele had stunned the Olembe Stadium into silence with the opening goal in the fourth minute as Cameroon was caught out. Hotessa raced into position to meet a cross by Amanuel Gebremichael and expose a big hole in Cameroon’s defense.
Cameroon shook off that blow, just as it did to come from behind to beat Burkina Faso 2-1 in the tournament opener on Sunday with two penalties from Aboubakar.
Ekambi equalized four minutes after Ethiopia’s surprise goal and Cameroon took control from then. Aboubakar scored twice in the space of two minutes early in the second half, first with a powerful header and then when he forced the ball in with a sliding finish.
Ekambi made it 4-1 by cutting back inside a group of Ethiopia defenders and firing into the bottom left corner, and after deciding against passing to Aboubakar for a chance for a hat trick for the captain.
Ekambi and Aboubakar were both taken off by Cameroon coach Toni Conceicao, who knows there are tougher tests ahead.
Nine of the first 12 games at the African Cup had ended 1-0, and there were also two 0-0 draws, so Cameroon’s free-scoring result on Thursday brought the tournament some much-needed goals.
Cape Verde plays Burkina Faso in the other Group A game later Thursday.
There was also more fallout from the refereeing debacle that marred the Mali-Tunisia game at the African Cup on Wednesday.
Reports quoted African soccer confederation official Essam Abdul Fattah as saying the referee in question had been suffering from sunstroke when he twice blew for full time too early in the game, and needed to go to the hospital after the match.
Referee Janny Sikazwe’s errors sparked chaos and incensed Tunisian players and coaching staff because Tunisia was losing 1-0. Tunisia has lodged an official protest over his actions with the African confederation.