Cameroon Secure 21st Africa Cup of Nations Appearance
GAROUA, Cameroon, Sept 12 - A tense Cameroon team netted two goals after halftime to overcome Burundi with a scoreline of 3-0 in Garoua on Tuesday, sealing their spot in the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations finals in January. The triumphant return of Andre Onana to the squad was underscored by a string of crucial saves that he orchestrated throughout the match.
The pressure was on for Cameroon to secure a win in this encounter to guarantee their participation in the finals. The victory not only led them to be the frontrunners of the three-team Group C but also paved the way for Namibia to join them in the qualifiers, leaving Burundi to bow out of the competition.
The deadlock was broken just a minute into the second half when Bryan Mbeumo capitalized on a defensive mistake to register the first goal of the match. Not too long after, in the 59th minute, defender Christopher Wooh demonstrated alertness as he picked up a loose ball following a corner kick by Karl Toko Ekambi, netting a close-range goal despite initially missing a header opportunity.
Wooh's vigilant play was mirrored in the final moments of the match during stoppage time when Vincent Aboubakar, the team captain, leveraged a deflection from a defender to score the third and sealing goal.
Burundi, who could have proceeded with just a draw, showcased a commendable performance throughout the match despite their significant ranking disparity with the 42nd-ranked Indomitable Lions. Burundi maintained optimistic gameplay, forcing Onana to pull off several noteworthy saves against attempts by Bonfils-Caleb Bimenyimana and Saidi Ntibazonzika.
The spotlight was notably on Onana, who was reintegrated into the team following disagreements with coach Rigobert Song during last year's World Cup event in Qatar. Displaying formidable skills as the latest recruit for Manchester United, Onana proved instrumental in attaining Cameroon’s first victory since their narrow triumph over Brazil in Qatar last December.
As the dynamics in Group C come to a close, anticipation builds for the comprehensive lineup of teams set to compete in the 24-team Cup of Nations finals slated to take place in Ivory Coast from January 13 to February 11 of the ensuing year.