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Cape Verde navigate home advantage to 3-1 win as Cameroon hampered by stiff winds

A poor start from the hosts gave Cape Verde an early deficit against Cameroon, but the Blue Sharks utilized home weather conditions and a brilliant individual performance from Ryan Mendes to win 3-1 in AFCON qualifying on Friday. The win puts Cape Verde into second place in Group F knowing that avoiding defeat in their final match at Mozambique will wrap up qualification.

The Indomitable Lions looked set to cruise to a routine victory thanks to a focused opening minutes that culminated with moment of brilliance from Mainz midfielder Pierre Kunde Malong. With the wind at his back Malong hit a laser free-kick that flew past Vozinha in the Cape Verdean goal to give the visitors a 14th minute lead. The hosts fought back and a struggling attack during the qualifying campaign was sparked to action with an equalizer in the 25th minute. A long throw was poorly dealt with by the Cameroonian defense and Jaílton Alves Miranda, better known as Kuca, hit a skipping effort that snuck inside the post.

Windy conditions were noticeable early on but became highly influential following Kuca’s equalizer. Vozinha noticeably could not get his goal-kicks beyond the halfway line, leaving the goalkeeper and hosts to wisely waste time and bunker down until the break. The strategy worked wonders as the Sharks turned up the heat with the wind at their backs in the second half and Cameroon struggled to adjust.

Saudi-based forward Ryan Mendes was the clear standout after the break as his slick dribbling and cross was turned by Cameroon defender Macky Bagnack into his own goal in the 59th minute. Mendes completed his Man of the Match performance ten minutes later when the wind turned a speculative clearance into a perfect through ball for the former Nottingham Forest player to run onto and slot his finish past Fabrice Ondoa.

It was a crucial time for Cape Verde and Mendes to rediscover their offense but a difficult road test awaits in Mozambique with qualification on the line. Cameroon are already qualified and will face Rwanda at home to close out their campaign. Highlights are below.

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