The 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations gets underway in a little over 24 hours time in the Central African country. The host nation, Cameroon will play Burkina Faso in the first game of the competition on Sunday, January 9, after having little time to wrap up their preparations.
Many participating countries have complained about the decision of FIFA to allow the European-based clubs to join their teams late for the tournament as it looks to have taken a toll on their preparations.
Labelled as one of the favourites, Cameroon will be looking to have a good start to their 2021 AFCON campaign in front of their home fans against Burkina Faso.
The Stallions are also hoping to mark their return to the continental showpiece with a convincing performance against one of the heavyweights for this year’s competition. Burkina Faso qualified for the Afcon after topping Group B during the qualifying series, ahead of Malawi, Uganda and South Sudan.
The last three encounters involving this pair have all ended in stalemates, the latest being a 0-0 draw in the African Nations Championships in January 2021.
Vincent Aboubakar was absent for Cameroon’s last AFCON appearance as he had sustained an injury prior to the championship. The forward, whose cracking volley won Cameroon their fifth title will be in the squad as they host the competition.
Toni Conceicao will be dreaming of success in the competition and the return of Ajax’s Andre Onana should be a huge boost for the team’s goalkeeping department. Clinton Njie, Christian Bassogog, and Karl Toko-Ekambi will be other of those players the coach will be looking at for impact.
For Burkina Faso, They will be drawing inspiration from Aston Villa’s Bertrand Traore, who made his first Afcon appearance as a teenager back in 2012, at age 17. That tournament also saw him score his first international goal for the Stallions.
With everyone in camp, Burkina Faso will field their strongest team to face the Indomitable Lions on Sunday.
WHERE AND WHEN?
Venue: Olembe Stadium
Date: Sunday, January 9
Time: 16:00 GMT
The Indomitable Lions have also been one of the powerhouses on the African continent. Being five-time winners of the competition, Cameroon have done so playing some good football in the course of every time they have been champions.
With a 4-3-3 formation in their recent games, Conceicao’s side have had the fluidity and the needed transition they need when turning defensive situations into the attack. The pace from the frontline has always been key to their play even during the qualifies.
Against a Burkina Faso side, who like to play through their wingers, Cameroon’s defensive capabilities will surely be put to test and it will be interesting to see how they can cope against the pattern of play of Kamou Malo’s men, who are more comfortable in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR: BERTRAND TRAORE
Aston Villa‘s Bertrand Traore may not have had the best of starts to the 2021/22 English Premier League as he has started just one of the six games he has featured in. The 26-year-old has struggled with injuries in the current campaign but the continental showpiece definitely gives him an opportunity to put his club woes behind him.
Traore, if not the best, has been one of the Stallions best performers at the recent AFCONs they have participated in and it will be no different this time considering the experience he has amassed in that run.
With 12 goals in 60 appearances for the national team, the forward will be hoping to add to his numbers and a goal against Cameroon could give him the eyeballs once again.
Cameroon: Onana; Onguene, Ngadeu-Ngadjui, Tolo, Fai; Anguissa, Hongla, Onum-Gouet; Toko Ekambi, Aboubakar, Choupo-Moting.
Burkina Faso: Koffi; Tapsoba, Dayo, Kabore, Malo; Guira, Ouedraogo, Bayala; Traore, Ouattara, Sanogo.
Cameroon 2-1 Burkina Faso