AFCON 2021: Cameroon overcome a scare to win their Africa Cup of Nations opening, thanks to a quickfire double by Cameroon’s captain Vincent Aboubakar halftime as they beat Burkina Faso 2:1.
Cameroon’s captain Vincent Aboubakar scored a couple of penalties in the opening game of the Africa Cup of Nations in Yaounde on Sunday, as the hosts came from behind to defeat Covid-ravaged Burkina Faso 2-1.
Burkina Faso took the lead in the Group A encounter at the Olembe Stadium thanks to Gustavo Sangare, but Aboubakar equalized from the spot five minutes before the break after a VAR review.
The 29-year-old, who scored the game-winning goal in the 2017 Cup of Nations final against Egypt, then scored the game-winner in first-half stoppage time, and was only prevented a hat-trick after the interval by an offside flag.
It’s the ideal start for the Indomitable Lions as they look to win their sixth continental crown on home soil, with Cameroon finally getting to host a tournament that was taken away from them and handed to Egypt in 2019 before being postponed a year ago due to the Ebola outbreak.
The crowd at Olembe Stadium was limited to 80 percent of its 60,000-capacity due to covid restrictions, but that did not dampen the joy for the hosts, who lit up the sky with celebratory fireworks at full-time.
Cameroon’s 88-year-old Head Paul Biya, who has ruled the Central African country for 40 years, as well as FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Confederation of African Football supremo Patrice Motsepe, attended the match and opening ceremony.
However, Aboubakar, a former Porto striker who now plays for a Saudi Arabian club, was the star of the show as Cameroon jumped out to an early lead in Group A, which also includes Ethiopia and Cape Verde.
On the day of the tournament, Burkina Faso was struck a setback when it was revealed that coach Kamou Malo and many players had tested positive for the coronavirus, putting assistant coach Firmin Sanou in charge.
Nonetheless, they took the lead in the 24th minute when Cameroon goalkeeper Andre Onana came for and missed a Bertrand Traore cross from the right, and Sangare, a France-based midfielder, was there to turn the ball in at the far post.
Nonetheless, with the help of VAR, Cameroon, coached by Toni Conceicao of Portugal, turned the game around by halftime.
The Indomitable Lions were awarded a penalty after Traore fouled Napoli’s Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, and Aboubakar stroked home the equalizer in the 40th minute.
After a risky challenge by Issoufou Dayo, he netted from 12 yards again in first-half stoppage time.
Burkina Faso tried a comeback in the second half, with Traore testing Onana with a long-range free-kick and Adama Guira having a shot saved by the goalkeeper, but the hosts held on.
Cameroon has made its fans and fellow countrymen proud by getting off to a strong start in the competition. Hopefully, everything will stay the same or improve, as they have been named as one of the contenders for AFCON 2021.