And that is that for the opening match at the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations. Cameroon came through a serious test against Burkina Faso to notch an opening win thanks to two penalties from the impressive Vincent Aboubakar. Moumi Ngamaleu, in addition, had a fine match and André-Frank Zambo Anguissa was none too shabby in the middle of the park for the hosts.
Thanks for reading today, and roll on the next four weeks at the Africa Cup of Nations. Bye for now.
Full-time! Cameroon 2-1 Burkina Faso
There is time for Tolo to try an outrageous volley from the edge of the penalty area which flies wide ... the final whistle blows, and Cameroon seal an opening win thanks to two first-half penalties by Aboubakar.
After a somewhat nervy start, the match burst into life towards the end of the first half – and Cameroon eventually survive a big scare against an impressive Burkina Faso outfit.
90 min + 3: Cameroon drive down the right. Koffi initially spills a cross but then gathers. The seconds are ticking down to what will be an opening win for the tournament hosts.
90 min + 2: Konate has the merest hint of a sight of goal for Burkina Faso from a tight angle. He gets his shot on target but Onana is able to gather cleanly.
90 min: Time’s up, but five added minutes at a minimum will be played – mostly as a result of an incredibly long VAR check for that disallowed Cameroon goal.
87 min: Aboubakar, the two-penalty hero for Cameroon, is now taken off with Neyou coming on. This is certainly tense, although it’s hard to argue the football has been consistently of great quality. As stated, though, it’s often the way with the nerves and high stakes that come with a tournament opener.
85 min: Traore, another strong performer today, is replaced by Bande for Burkina Faso. Fresh legs for one final push on the Cameroon goal ...
83 min: Toni Conceição, the Cameroon manager, issues a few instructions from the bench. His side are edging towards the win here but he’d love a third goal.
81 min: Another change for Cameroon: Christian Bassogog comes on for Ngamaleu, who has been outstanding, and absolutely full of running and quality on the ball. Man of the match, for me.
78 min: The hat-trick hunting Aboubakar of Cameroon gets a sight of goal from an angle on the right of the area, and gives his shot everything, but it flies over.
The wall of noise from the crowd is relentless, and as it stands the home fans will be going home happy, but Burkina Faso are still carrying plenty of threat on the break.
73 min: Zambo Anguissa hammers a powerful shot goalwards from the edge of the box for Cameroon. It nicks off a defender and out for a corner. The resulting set piece is contested aerially but goes out for a goal kick to Burkina Faso.
68 min: A double change for Burkina Faso now, with Konate and Sanogo coming on.
66 min: Traore smacks a powerful shot from an angle for Burkina Faso, Onana saves.
Double change now for Cameroon: Toko Ekambi and Kunde go off, with Clinton and Choupo-Moting come on.
The time seems to have disappeared from my screen on Sky Sports so I’m not entirely sure how long there is left ...
64 min: Ngamaleu, who seems to be popping up on either flank, now takes the ball down the Cameroon left. The ball finds its way to Aboubakar, and it takes two defenders to take him out of the action, his shot blocked desperately at the last minute by two covering defenders.
61 min: Cameroon goal disallowed!
This is a very, very long VAR check ... and at the end of it, the on-field decision for offside stands, and Cameroon still lead 2-1.
58 min: VAR check on a possible goal for Cameroon!
Cameroon, again, burst forward in numbers. Aboubakar lays the ball off to Ngamaleu on the right, whose initial shot is saved, but then hits Aboubakar and floats into the net. It’s a VAR check ...
52 min: Traore smashes the free-kick into the six-yard box ... the ball ricochets around, cleared off the Cameroon line not once but twice, with Onana making a brilliant save from point-blank range! So nearly the equaliser for Burkina Faso.
51 min: Rather like the beginning of the first half, the game has lost a bit of shape, with neither side being able to build any passing rhythm. Burkina Faso break down the right and Tolo of Cameroon gives away a free-kick right on the byline ...
49 min: Cameroon break quickly and three players swarm into the penalty area. Aboubakar hits a shot but it lacks power and it dribbles towards the Burkina Faso goal.
46 min: Burkina Faso win a free-kick in a central area. Traore hits it powerfully, his effort swerving late, and Onana can only punch it away.
Second half kick-off!
Burkina Faso get the second half under way. Can they find a way back, after being shocked by those two Cameroon penalties late in the first half?
Half-time! Cameroon 2-1 Burkina Faso
Well – that was lively. Two penalties have Cameroon, the tournament hosts, in the lead after Burkina Faso opened the scoring. It was a nervy, disjointed start but a much more entertaining affair later in the half. See you in a few minutes for more.
GOAL! 45min + 3: Cameroon 2-1 Burkina Faso (Aboubakar)
There was a lightning-fast break down the left by Cameroon. Dayo slid in and tackled Nouhou. The referee pointed to the spot. Aboubakar tucks it away, putting it to his left this time, rather than to his right like the first one. Cameroon lead.
45 min +2: Penalty to Cameroon!
The hosts can go in the break leading!
41 min: Another booking, this time for the home side. Onguene of Cameroon goes in the book for an off-the-ball incident. Tapsoba goes down in a heap, appearing to clutch his neck, and a stretcher comes on and takes him off the field. He comes straight back on, and there doesn’t appear to be a VAR check either.
GOAL! 40 min: Cameroon 1-1 Burkina Faso (Aboubakar pen)
A stuttering run-up but an assured finish. Cameroon are back on terms and the crowd is up. A brilliant penalty into the bottom corner, his 26th goal for his country.
38 min: Penalty for Cameroon!
Anguissa wins a spot-kick! It went to VAR. There was a long check. Aboubakar will take.
33 min: Ngamaleu takes the free-kick himself. Traore heads it out for a corner. The resulting set piece is wasted despite several Cameroon players lining up in the penalty area. Worrying signs for Cameroon here, they have lost their way since conceding and need to re-establish themselves.
31 min: Another booking for Burkina Faso: Malo goes in the referee’s book for a horrible diving challenge on Ngamaleu, who continues to cause problems on the Cameroon right.
24 min: That was a manic passage of play. Burkina Faso counterattack on the left. They win a corner, and Traore powers a stunning header which is flying in the top corner, only to be desperately cleared off the line by a Cameroon defender who is stationed on the far post. Another ball across from the opposite side kisses the crossbar, as Onana misjudges the delivery. The ball ends up on the Burkina Faso right, and a superb deep cross to the far post is acrobatically volleyed into the roof of the net by Sangare, who plays his club football in Ligue 2 for Quevilly-Rouen. That was not Onana’s finest hour.
GOAL! 24 min: Cameroon 0-1 Burkina Faso (Sangare)
What a finish on the volley! Great goal by Sangare, after Traore’s header was cleared off the line from a corner, moments before!
19 min: Zambo Anguissa – who has been excellent for Napoli this season, on loan from Fulham – starts a flowing Cameroon move which again ends with Ngamaleu in space on the right. But the defending from Burkina Faso is solid.
17 min: Cyrille Bayala races on to a good ball in behind by Burkina Faso. This time it’s Onana’s turn to come rushing out of his area, but he gets there first and wins a strong 50-50 tackle. Bayala writhes around in pain for a while but he’s OK to continue.
15 min: Ngamaleu, who is full of running on the Cameroon right, forces a corner. But it’s a poor delivery and doesn’t clear the first defender.
12 min: Cameroon come forward again. Ngamaleu bends a deep cross over from the right wing, but it’s overhit. This has been fairly short on quality so far, but then again, major tournament openers aren’t exactly well-known for producing memorable football.
9 min: Cameroon surge down the right again. Koffi, the Burkina Faso goalie, comes rushing out of his area but fails to get the ball. Error. He gets away with it, though, as the resulting cross-shot sails high and wide and out for a goal kick.
7 min: This is more like it from Cameroon. Aboubakar comes short to take a pass into feet from the right wing. He turns wonderfully as he receives the ball, taking two defenders out of the game entirely, and buying himself plenty of space to fashion a shot from the edge of the penalty area. He tries to wrap his left boot around a curler but it skews off his boot and out for a goal kick.
5 min: After that full-on start, it’s all settled down a bit. Burkina Faso are sitting deep and clearly hoping to hit the tournament hosts on the break. Cameroon are having most of the ball, but aside from the set-piece that resulted from Yago’s rush of blood in the opening moments, they haven’t created anything.
1 min: Cameroon attack down the right wing with a direct ball from defence. Yago of Burkina Faso goes in the referee’s book in the first few seconds for a lusty, studs up challenge on Fai Collins, who had brought the ball down well and was bursting into space on the edge of the penalty area. A lively start to say the least.
First half kick-off!
Cameroon get the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations under way. They’re playing in their familiar home strip of green shirts, red shorts and yellow socks. Burkina Faso are all in white with red and green trim.
The teams are out. So are the vuvuzelas, it would seem. The respective sides huddle together before kick-off.
The Cameroon midfielder Yvan Neyou, who plays his club football for Saint-Étienne, warms up.
And the goalie, André Onana, plays club football for Ajax at the moment, but is going to join Internazionale in the summer.
“It’s not very straightforward – it’s not something that you’ll find every day,” Mario Marinica says. But the Romania-born British citizen, who is set to manage Malawi at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon – his team kick off against Naby Keïta’s Guinea on Monday – wants to explain why a turn of events that feels bizarre is actually all perfectly normal.
More Covid-19 news from the Senegal camp:
The goalkeeper Édouard Mendy and striker Famara Diedhiou will join captain Kalidou Koulibaly on the sidelines for Senegal’s opening match at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon after both tested positive for Covid-19, the country’s football federation said on Sunday.
That leaves Senegal, already hit by six positive cases before they departed for the tournament, with a threadbare squad for their opening Group B clash against Zimbabwe in Bafoussam on Monday. Koulibaly’s positive test was revealed by his club Napoli on Saturday, who said he was vaccinated and asymptomatic.
The Senegal federation then confirmed the Chelsea goalkeeper and Turkey-based striker, formerly with Bristol City, were in isolation. Saliou Ciss, Bamba Dieng, Mame Baba Thiam, Pape Matar Sarr, Nampalys Mendy and second choice goalkeeper Alfred Gomis all remained in Dakar on Wednesday after testing positive as the team were to depart for the finals.
Ismaïla Sarr is not available because of injury, as is Abdoulaye Seck, leaving coach Aliou Cisse with just 17 players. “It’s a difficult and complicated situation,” Cisse told a news conference in Bafoussam on Sunday. “But we are going to be competitive and those there are going to play for those who are absent. We are still going into the game against Zimbabwe full of confidence.”
The Confederation of African Football has laid down strict rules regarding Covid-19. If any player tests positive they will not be authorised to go to the stadium or participate in the match, while teams must play as long as they have a minimum of 11 players available. If they have no goalkeeper available, another player must play in that position. Teams that do not have a minimum of 11 players available will be considered to have lost the match 2-0, according to CAF. (Reuters)
The opening ceremony is well under way – in fact it’s nearly finished – but Sky Sports aren’t showing it. Here are some photos.
“It was always my ambition and I told myself it was going to happen one day,” says Jojo Wollacott of Ghana and Swindon Town. “To play for your country at a major tournament is every boy’s dream … I’ve got to pinch myself again.”
Here’s Ben Fisher:
Cameroon: Andre Onana, Onguene, Ngadeu-Ngadjui, Tolo, Zambo Anguissa, Fai, Gouet, Kunde, Ngamaleu, Aboubakar, Toko Ekambi. Substitutes: Moukoudi, Oyongo, N’Jie, Bahoken, Bassogog, Choupo-Moting, Epassy, Ganago, Castelletto, Omossola, Lea Siliki, Neyou.
Burkina Faso: Koffi, Kabore, Dayo, Yago, Malo, Guira, Toure, Bertrand Traore, Sangare, Bayala, Abdoul Tapsoba. Substitutes: Sawadogo, Djibril Ouattara, Eric Traore, Abdoul Nikiema, Konate, Hermann Nikiema, Sanogo, Ismahila Ouedraogo, Bande, Farid Ouedraogo, Botue.
Paul Doyle is here with some players to watch - including Steven Caulker of Sierra Leone, who you may remember from an England friendly against Sweden back in 2012:
Leon Osman, Raheem Sterling, Carl Jenkinson (!!), Ryan Shawcross (!!!) and Wilfried Zaha also debuted for England on the same night. Where are they now?
A couple of familiar faces on Twitter – Senegal’s Sadio Mané with a message for his Liverpool teammates, Naby Keïta (Guinea) and Mohamed Salah (Egypt):
And Riyad Mahrez of Algeria and Manchester City with a thank you for the fans:
Jonathan Wilson writes that the Africa Cup of Nations is worthy of respect, even if the scheduling doesn’t fit with many other competitions around the world:
Like pretty much everything else, this long-awaited tournament has been badly affected by Covid-19: initially scheduled for 2021, it was delayed by the initial wave of the pandemic, before the emergence of the Omicron variant late last year led to the threat of yet another delay.
There have been accusations of disrespect, and even racism, regarding the attitude of certain clubs at the prospect of losing their players in the middle of the European season. But this tournament is far bigger than the vastly overhyped Premier League – or indeed any other domestic competition. Those tiresome arguments over player availability and the complaints of myopic managers and supporters will – hopefully – fade into the background when the football finally begins in Yaoundé today.
Several squads are dealing with Covid-19 outbreaks, including the bookies’ favourites Senegal, with Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly in isolation after testing positive this week. But this show is on the road, with 24 teams vying for a place in the final in four weeks’ time, on Sunday 6 February.
Kick-off is at 4pm UK time as tournament hosts Cameroon open the tournament against Burkina Faso. Team news, pre-match reading and more coming right up.