AFCON 2021: Cameroon Seals semi-final spot with Ekambi’s Brace

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Toko Ekambi has now scored 5 goals

Karl Toko Ekambi hit a brace as the Indomitable Lions booked a spot at the semi-final of the Africa Cup of Nations this January 29 at the Douala Japoma Stadium.

Cameroon had a tough time breaking the defence wall of The Gambia in the first half as the game headed into the break with no goals. This was the tactic of the scorpions who had resulted to a defence strategy in the first half knowing the lethal power Cameroon has in front of the goal.

But, the Indomitable Lions who had the crowd in their side was not going to relent as a few minutes into the second half, the five-time Africa Cup of Nations winners succeeded in breaking down the Scorpions.

Vincent Aboubakar has been getting almost all the plaudit due to his goals that have helped Cameroon but it was his fellow strike partner Karl Toko Ekambi who broke the deadlock. The Lyon striker who picked up the man of the match award in Cameroon’s game against Ethiopia opened the scoring at the 50th minute through a beautifully taken header. The assist coming from Fai Collins who is another player having an excellent performance in Cameroon.

Seven minutes later, the Indomitable Lions will make it 2-0 with Toko Ekambi scoring his brace from a tap-in. This goal from Ekambi brings to 5 for the player in the tournament. After finding a black at his two previous AFCONS (2017 and 2019) Ekambi like Aboubakar have been carrying Cameroon all through the campaign.

Head Coach Antonio Conceicao with the performance of the players as he said they respected the instructions to go and win the match despite the missed opportunities in the first half. “In addition to the victory, it was our match where our attack-defence balance was the most respected. I am very happy with our production against a great team from the Gambia,” Antonio Conceicao said.

“Regarding the semi-final, what worries me the most is to see my players recover; it was a physically demanding match. We will rest and analyse our next opponent and put the strategy in place. I am really happy with my players.”

“I am proud of the performance of the team tonight. The Gambia are a difficult team to play but we never gave up even when we were struggling in the first half,” Karl Toko Ekambi, who also picked up the man of the match award said in his post-match reactions.

“We kept working and we got the crack. It is good; everyone has a role to play in this team. In 2017 I played a lot less; it is not the case today. It is the victory at the end that is the most important.”

Karl Toko Ekambi added: “We are a family, the group lives well. The group prefers to focus on the present, this competition and not focus on the past with what happened in 1972, we want to write our history.”

The Indomitable Lions are very much on course for their sixth Africa Cup of Nations title. The country is second on the title counts behind Egypt (7) and the two sides may meet at the semi-final. Egypt will face Morocco this Sunday, January 30 with the winner facing Cameroon at the semis. Should this happen, it will be a repeat of 2017 final where Vincent Aboubakar scored the last goal as Cameroon won Egypt 2-1 to pick up the title.

In the other semi-final, the Stallions of Burkina Faso qualified for the semi-final after beating one of the favourites Tunisia 1-0. Dango Aboubacar Ouattara scored the lone goal for the side. The victory was a bittersweet moment as Aboubacar will not be featuring at the semis after he picked up a red card in the game against Tunisia.

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