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Cameroon struggle past underhanded but spirited Comoros to AFCON quarterfinals

Hosts Cameroon are through to the final eight at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations following a dominant victory over Comoros on Monday. Les Coelacanthes gave an inspired effort throughout but an early red card to captain Nadjim Abdou doomed the underdogs to playing a player down for more than eighty minutes before goals by Karl Toko Ekambi and Vincent Aboubakar put the Indomitable Lions just beyond reach. Cameroon will face upstarts Gambia on Saturday in an intriguing matchup.

The odds were always against the island nation due to the fact that all three of the team’s goalkeepers were unavailable because of injury and Covid-19. Ali Ahamada had tested negative before the match but had not followed proper protocol, forcing the team to send diminutive full back Chaker Alhadhur out with his number 3 taped to the back of a goalkeeper kit. The AC Ajaccio player performed admirably as Comoros held out bravely.

However, a mistake from captain Abdou made an upset nearly impossible when his studs up tackle caught the ankle of Cameroon’s Moumi Ngamaleu, leading the Video Assistant Referee and center official to give a red card to the midfielder. After some close misses in the opening twenty minutes, the Indomitable Lions struck before the half hour mark. Ngamaleu lifted a pass to find Vincent Aboubakar on the right side of the penalty area and the Cameroon captain tapped a pass over to Ekambi, who easily slotted a low finish beyond Alhadhur.

Cameroon dominated the run of play but Comoros were able to break out and threaten on several occasions, nearly leveling soon after the opener. Ahmed Mogni, hero from the Comoros victory over Ghana, thumped a low driven shot that required an excellent save from Cameroon goalkeeper André Onana, who also denied a rebound attempt. Cameroon’s subsequent lack of finishing and heroic performance by improvised keeper Alhadhur maintained an uneasy atmosphere as the match progressed despite the advantages for the hosts.

However, a second goal was always inevitable and Aboubakar provided his competition-leading sixth goal to seal Cameroon’s passage to the quarterfinals. Aboubakar made an excellent run into the Comorian penalty area and received a pass from Martin Hongla, waiting for Alhadhur to commit before easily sliding his shot past the fallen keeper.

The fierce Comorian resistance continued and a magical moment from Youssouf M’Changama silenced the crowd in the 81st minute. The playmaker lined up a free kick from forty yards with no wall in front of him and unleashed a thumping strike that left Onana with absolutely no chance. Despite the heroic charge at the end, Comoros could not muster up another opportunity and Cameroon held on for victory in an overall underwhelming performance.

Highlights are below.

29′- Toko Ekambi is assisted by Aboubakar for Cameroon’s first goal

70′- Aboubakar stretches Cameroon’s lead with his sixth AFCON 2021 goal

81′- M’Changama silences crowd with stunning free kick

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