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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Toko Ekambi free kick the difference in Cameroon victory over Burundi

A first half Karl Toko Ekambi goal from a direct free kick gave Cameroon a winning start in 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying as the Indomitable Lions shutout Burundi 1-0 on Thursday. Cameroon move to the top of a three-team Group C and establish themselves as the clear favorites with the result ahead of two matchups against Namibia in September. Burundi have one point from two games and will wait until 2023 for their next AFCON qualifier against Namibia.

It was a dominant performance from the Indomitable Lions against underdogs Burundi, who hosted the home fixture in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Cameroon should have scored more but Toko Ekambi and captain Vincent Aboubakar were not at their most clinical on the day with Aboubakar in particular failing to convert multiple opportunities. After Burundi held out valiantly at the start it was Toko Ekambi who provided the difference making moment on the half hour mark by curling a free kick past Les Hirondelles goalkeeper Jonathan Nahimana from 23 yards out.

Burundi had a few chances to challenge Cameroon keeper André Onana but lacked any sort of killer instinct in the penalty area. The hosts’ best opportunity arrived in the 38th minute when Cameroon left back Nouhou Tolo made a dreadful back pass to Onana that was intercepted by Burundi striker Saido Berahino but none of his fellow attackers made runs to meet his cross after he drew Onana out of position.

Aboubakar had a few excellent looks on either side of halftime, seeing a shot deflected just wide with Nahimana beaten before heading Moumi Ngamaleu’s cross off the post and wide in the 55th minute. The 2021 AFCON leading scorer appeared to have finally found his goal in the 69th minute when Eric Choupo-Moting drew Nahimana out but Aboubakar’s volley from another Ngamaleu cross was cleared off the line by a Burundi defender. It was no problem in the end as Cameroon held out comfortably to make it three points from their opening fixtures.

Highlights from Dar es Salaam are below.