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25.06.2019 Sports News

Cameroon start defence of Cup of Nations title

By Paul Myers in Cairo - RFI
AFP/Reinnier KAZE

Cameroon start the defence of their Africa Cup of Nations crown on Tuesday in Ismailia against Guinea-Bissau with a sense of loss after Joel Tagueu was ruled out of the tournament. The 25-year-old striker was sent home by team doctors after tests revealed he risked suffering a heart attack if he played.

The Cameroon football association said its request to draft in another player was refused by the organisers, the Confederation of African football.

Despite Tagueu's departure, Cameroon should, on paper, see off their opponents who are playing in their second consecutive tournament.

Two years ago in Gabon, in their first appearance at the Cup of Nations, Guinea-Bissau came bottom of Group A with only one point.

That was secured with a stalemate against hosts Gabon. They also had Cameroon on the run during the group stages until two goals in the second half from Sébastien Siani and Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjuiput down the upstarts.

Ngadeu-Ngadjui made the cut for the 2019 tournament but Siani will be absent as his nation tries to emulate the feats of the Samuel Eto'o inspired vintage which won back-to- back titles in 2000 and 2002.

A single triumph, let alone consecutive crowns would be gereted with a national holiday in Ghana. The Black Stars have not won the Cup of Nations since 1982.

They launch their quest on Tuesday night against Benin. Ghana's preparations were hampered with Asamoah Gyan's hissy fit over the captaincy of the squad.

The record goal scorer abruptly announced his international retirement following a row with the coach, James Kwesi Appiah, over roles within the Ghana squad.

Only the intervention of the Ghana president, Nana Akufo-Addo, wooed Gyan back. The 33 year-old will be under pressure to prove the courtship was worthwhile.

Benin, who have not appeared since 2010, will not be easy pickings for Ghana under the canny tutelage of Michel Dussuyer.