Sports Features of Wednesday, 28 January 2015
Source: Graphic Online
Cameroun versus Côte d’Ivoire in African football? That is a clash befitting a grand finale status, but no it is not the final, but their final attempt in Group D as they try to save what is left of their disappointing campaign at the 30th edition of the African Cup of Nations in Ebebiyin this evening.
With their pedigree in African football and calibre of players, these two teams were tipped as tournament favourites and to be the ones in front at this point in their group campaign.
That is not the case as Cameroun’s Indomitable Lions have a slim lead and The Elephants of Côte d’Ivoire have an early exit starring them right in the face.
Even without the stakes so high, matches between these two giants have never been easy and today’s clash will up the stakes even higher as they both need to win to stay on.
After two group games all four teams have two points and two goals apiece, and not even separated by the head to head record. And should this evening’s ties end as the previous matches, then Côte d’Ivoire will have to say goodbye because of their bad Fair Play record.
Striker Gervinho’s red card in the opening game have not meant that he has missed the rest of their group matches, but it could be their undoing as that weighs heavily against them.
Of the two, Cameroun have shown more character, but no doubt, missing their experienced players, who made such passages easier for them at previous tournaments.
However, needing nothing but a win to stay on, the Lions may roar as loudest as they can to ditch the Elephants.
Still parading an array of stars despite the absence of former captain Didier Drogba, the Ivorians, led at this campaign by history-making Renard Herve, have barely impressed, forced to draw even with late equalisers.
The record between these two sides does not favour the Elephants either. Since beating them 3-2 in their first AFCON meeting in 1970, the Lions have gone on to beat the Elephants four times, between 1984 and 2006, with the only victory going the way of the Ivorians in 1992 on their way to being crowned champions.
As recent as in the qualifiers to this tournament, Cameroun again won 4-1 in Yaounde before drawing goalless in Abidjan, showing they would want to repeat in this encounter, and it will be no surprise if they win.
In the other game, there is very little to choose between the neighbours, Guinea and Mali as they are both daring and exciting to watch.
However, tonight, they will need the will and stay power much more than their exciting play and determination to hang on.