AFCON 2021: All Hail Vincent Aboubakar
The indomitable Lions clinched third-place after coming from three goals down to win Burkina Faso 5-3 on penalty shootouts
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
After failing to reach the final of the Africa Cup of Nations (losing on penalties to Egypt), the Indomitable Lions looked dejected but they were determined to win the third-place match against the Stallions of Burkina Faso.
The team had to work very hard to win the game this Saturday, February 5, 2022, coming from 3- goals down to send the game into penalty shootouts. Vincent Aboubakar scored two of Cameroon’s goals to finish on 8 goals in total.
This was the second encounter between Cameroon and Burkina Faso in the Africa Cup of Nations, after the first meeting on an opening day. During that game, the Indomitable Lions had to come from a goal down to win 2-1. Things looked to be heading in the same direction with a low-par Cameroon side lacking the defensive and striking capabilities to hurt the Stallions in the majority of the game.
Heading into this game against Burkina Faso, Coach Antonio Conceicao made some nine changes, a decision that was greatly criticized by the Cameroonian football community. Top strikers Vincent Aboubakar, Karl Toko Ekambi and top assist providers Martin Hongla and the veritable Fai Collins were all placed on the bench for the encounter.
Things got off to the worst possible way for Cameroon who fell behind just 24mins into the encounter with a goal from Steeve Yago. And it will get worse for the Indomitable Lions at the 43rd minute with Andre Onana making a howler in saving the ball which went into the back of the net. This own goal from the inter Millan bound player showed how inconsistent he has been in the entire tournament where his decision-making has been below-par.
The second half began with the same intensity from the Stallions who looked to extend their lead in the game. And that extension will come just 4mins into the second half with Ouattara getting Burkina Faso’s third goal of the game.
Ignatius Ganago who was playing his first game for Cameroon did, however, put a smile on the faces of Cameroonians as he scored for the side at the 71st minute. The goal seemed to have revitalized the side with Aboubakar and Ekambi brought in to provide some strike power.
And the team will succeed in getting their second goal of the game to provide for a nail-biting finish in the encounter. Vincent Aboubakar will score Cameroon his first goal of the game in the 85th minute. Just three minutes later, the former Coton Sports striker will score the equalizer to send the game to penalty shootouts.
Cameroon will banish the “demons” they had against Egypt and will go on to win the game 5-3 on penalty shootouts to finish the competition in the third position.
The exploits of captain Vincent Aboubakar have been greatly appreciated by the Cameroonian public with some even calling for him to be knighted after the tournament. Where will Cameroon be without Vincent Aboubakar? Certainly not anywhere close to the third-place as his eight goals have almost single-handedly carried the side with teammates Karl Toko Ekambi.
Cameroon will now have to turn their attention to the upcoming FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers. Cameroon will face Algeria in a two-leg affair beginning in March with the winner guaranteed a place at the November event in Qatar.