By Emmanuel Yaw Nkansah
Following Mali’s triumph over Cameroon en route to solidifying their place at the apex of Group C, Burkina Faso and Cameroon faced each other in a crucial match to determine which team would advance to the quarterfinal stage. The Burkinabe came out on top in that clash, eliminating the defending champions and allowing South Africa to qualify for the quarterfinals.
Cameroon, determined to avoid the unfortunate fate of an early exit from the tournament, took the fight to Burkina Faso in the game played in Annaba.
Despite their slight dominance, however, Cameroon struggled to break the deadlock in the first half, and as a result, the game remained goalless at halftime.
After the break, Cameroon resumed from where they left off, and in the 61st minute, they took the lead through Matah Dorinel Yondjio, who latched onto a through ball from Essono Dipanda, dribbled his way past the goalkeeper, and smashed the ball into the empty net. Unfazed by the goal, Burkina Faso upped the tempo and began to exert more pressure on the Cameroonian defence.
That pressure was rewarded as two goals in two minutes flipped the game on its head. In the 76th minute, Souleymane Alio latched onto a through ball from Ousmane Camara and fired past the Cameroonian goalkeeper to level the scores.
Two minutes later, an almost identical phase of play saw Alio run onto yet another excellent through ball and fire past the goalie to complete the turnaround. As much as they tried, Cameroon were unable to level the score, and the game ended 2-1 in favour of Burkina Faso.
This result means that the defending champions, Cameroon, have been eliminated from the tournament after failing to win a single game. South Africa narrowly beat Cameroon to the final ‘best third-placed team’ slot by virtue of scoring more goals, as both teams finished with a -3 goal difference. Burkina Faso will face Nigeria on Thursday in the quarterfinals while table-toppers, Mali, take on Congo also on Thursday. Meanwhile, South Africa will take on so-far dominant Senegal at the Stade Nelson Mandela on Wednesday. You can catch all the quarterfinal action live on GTV Sports+.