Highly fancied Cameroon will take on Ghana in the first quarter-final of the Total Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), Mauritania 2021, today at the Stade Olympique in Nouakchott in what is expected to be an explosive clash.
Ghana who are playing in their 12th AFCON Under-20 tournament are seeking their fourth title and a first since 2009 while Cameroon who are playing their 10th tournament are seeking a second trophy and a first in 26 years.
A game of wit, strength and talent, a fixture between the senior sides of these two countries has always been explosive and nothing less is expected when their Under-20 teams clash for a place in the semi-finals.
Cameroon qualified to the last eight as the only team with a 100pc record, having won all their matches in the group phase. They beat hosts Mauritania and Uganda by a solitary goal, before thrashing Mozambique 4-1 in their final Group A match.
They collected all nine points while conceding only one goal, an 85th-minute strike from Lorenzoni in their win over Mozambique.
Ghana’s Black Satellites on the other end came through as one of the best two third-placed teams, having finished off with four points. They won 4-0 against Tanzania before drawing 0-0 with group winners Morocco, but it was their final day 2-1 loss at the hands of Gambia that dipped them to third in the standings.
Both teams play a fast-paced kind of game and a full-throttle display of attack is expected in Nouakchott on Thursday. Cameroon have the slight advantage of having had an extra day of rest compared to Ghana, while they will be on the same ground they have played their group matches as opposed to Ghana who have travelled from Nouadhibou.
But the Ghanaians will look to use the motivation and lessons from their loss to Gambia as a bouncing pad to head into the Cameroon game with a renewed fighting spirit. The two goals they conceded against the Young Scorpions of Gambia were the first they let in at the tournament.
- Players to watch:
Ghana’s 16-year-old midfielder Abdul Fatawu Issahaku has been a revelation for the Black Satellites at the tournament and his two stunning goals and one man of the match performance have placed him as one of the finest players in their squad.
Fatawu not only possesses good vision in midfield to pick outruns and make defense splitting passes but also has an eye for goal, especially from distance. He will be one of the players that Ghana will be looking on to if they are to slit open a tight Cameroonian defense.
Burly forward Percious Boah, who is also on two goals so far will also be one to watch out for in the match.
Cameroonian attacker Sunday Jang Junior scored the two goals that earned Cameroon a place in the last eight from the victories against Uganda and Mauritania. He was rested in the final match against Mozambique also due to the fact that he had a knock on his ankle.
He has trained well with the rest of the young Indomitable Lions over the past three days and is once again expected to lead the line of attack against Ghana.
Coach Christophe Ousmanou however will be spoilt for choice in attack especially after the performance against Mozambique with Etienne Eto’o scoring a brace and making one assist in a man of the match performance to give a case for himself to start the tie. Etienne had seen off both opening matches on the bench.
Midfielder Fidel Bryce Ambina has also been key for Cameroon, providing a good shield to the backline and initiating moves up front for his side and will also be a key part of the game plan on Thursday, especially as far as limiting Fatawu’s influence of the game.