All Group E favorites Cameroon needed to do was avoid defeat in their final group stage match against Niger at the 2022 African Nations Championship but the Ménas shocked the Intermediate Lions with a 1-0 victory to sneak into the quarterfinals as group winners. Ousseini Badamassi’s free kick took a deflection on its way past Cameroonian goalkeeper Marcelin Mbahbi for the game’s only goal before the Nigerien defense held off a late charge. Niger will face Ghana on Saturday in the quarterfinals.
It was clear early on that the Nigerien strategy was to keep the match close and dare Cameroon to break them down, leading to a first half with few opportunities. Cameroon enjoyed plenty of possession but lacked the creativity and offensive coordination to find opportunities, creating more and more pressure for the Intermediate Lions. Jerome Ngom Mbekeli came closest in the first half for Cameroon with an 8th minute free kick that went wide while Niger had several efforts from long distance that failed to test Mbahbi.
The Cameroonian defense was shaky in their opener against Republic of Congo and Niger steadily became more adventurous after halftime. Mbahbi did well to come off his line and close down forward Abdoul Aziz to deny a goal scoring opportunity in the 54th minute but the Gazelle de Garoua keeper had little chance fifteen minutes later. A free kick from Badamassi took a major deflection off Thomas Bawak, leaving Mbahbi wrong-footed as the ball went into the goal.
Cameroon desperately pushed for an equalizer to regain qualification for the quarterfinals but Niger were in an excellent position for their defense to take over. The Intermediate Lions continued their attacking struggles with Ngom Mbekeli appearing to be their only reliable chance creator. A free kick in the final seconds led to a frantic scramble in the Nigerien penalty area but after the ball fell kindly for Ramses Donfack the forward dragged his low shot just wide.
Video of Badamassi’s match winner is below.