…Stallions look to upset Lions in opener
Duala All eyes will be on the continent as the 2021 edition of the African Cup of Nations gets underway in Cameroon today. Much has been said leading up to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON); from Cameroon’s preparedness to host the tournament to the threat posed by the COVID- 19 pandemic, which continues to ravage the world. Initially scheduled to be played in January 2021, the pandemic forced a postponement as the world ground to a halt, battling the novel coronavirus.
The Central African host nation is however now confident of staging a safe and competitive tournament as the grand opening ceremony is expected to take place at the newlybuilt Olembe Stadium in Yaounde today.
However, Burkina Faso will look to upset hosts Cameroon in their Group A opener. The Burkinabe may be returning to the AFCON after missing out on the 2019 edition in Egypt, but they finished an impressive third in 2017 and were runners-up as recently as 2013 – their two best showings in the history of the tournament. The Stallions boast some experienced campaigners – headlined by Aston Villa striker Bertrand Traore, as well as defenders Steeve Yago and Issoufou Dayo – and they will revel in being the underdogs in this opening game.
They are also in impressive form after a 3-0 win over Gabon in a friendly last weekend, and have proven that they can match the continent’s top teams, having pushed Algeria all the way in the group phase of 2022 World Cup qualifying.
Cameroon, meanwhile, are one of the most successful nations in AFCON history: only Egypt (seven) have won more titles than the Indomitable Lions’ five, the most recent of which arrived in 2017.
They will be under pressure to make it six, and building momentum right from the start of the Nations Cup will be key.
The hosts will look to their experienced players to carry the burden of expectation, with the likes of Vincent Aboubakar, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Karl Toko Ekambi and Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui all seasoned at international level. In head-to-head stats, Cameroon and Burkina Faso have met in nine matches across all competitions since 1998, with the Indomitable Lions claiming four wins compared to one for the Stallions, while four games have been drawn.
The teams last met in an African Nations Championship (CHAN) group stage match in Yaounde in January 2021, with the clash ending all square at 0-