Lions tear Group D wide open
© AFP

Day 8 - Four-time champions Cameroon got their first points at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, but had to toil in coming from behind to defeat Zambia 3-2 in a thrilling game in Lubango, Angola.

The result means Gabon remain Group D leaders with four points after a goalless draw with Tunisia in the earlier match, while Cameroon have three points, Tunisia two and Zambia one. The Gabonese, who were not expected to be serious challengers at the tournament, beat Cameroon in their first match and again held their own Sunday against one of the perennial tournament favourites and the 2004 champions.

Cameroon were behind for exactly one hour, and facing an embarrassingly early exit from a Nations Cup that many thought they would win, before having the better of a dramatic ending to beat the skilled but occasionally shaky Chipolopolo.

Results
Gabon 0-0 Tunisia
Cameroon 3-2 Zambia (Geremi 68’, Eto’o 72, Idrissou 86’; J. Mulenga 8’, C. Katongo pen 81’)

Goal of the day
Cameroon 3-2 Zambia, Mohamadou Idrissou (86’)
Mohamadou Idrissou proved the value of his imposing presence in the Cameroonian attack by heading home the late winner, rising strongly above the Zambian defence to power the ball wide of goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene and into the back of the net. Ignored throughout the FIFA World Cup™ qualifying campaign, Idrissou was a late choice for the CAN but proved the perfect introduction when Cameroon were in obvious trouble at half-time. He was brought on to add to the attack and his presence induced the necessary panic in the Zambia defence for Cameroon to turn around the score line and go on to win the game, fittingly through the substitute himself.

Memorable Moments
Staying in the game
Carlos Idriss Kameni has a credible claim to being Africa’s best goalkeeper and his double save in the 38th minute might just have been the moment Cameroon’s Nations Cup campaign was saved. With Zambia leading, and Cameroon heading out if they were to lose, Kameni pulled off two spectacular stops to deny Zambia doubling their lead. First a swerving free-kick from Rainford Kalaba was punched away but fell right onto the foot of Chris Katongo, who propelled it back goalwards only for Kameni to get up off the turf and make a reaction save, turning the ball around the post for a corner. Zambia should have been 2-0 up, but Kameni established a beachhead from which the Indomitable Lions were eventually able to fight their way back into the game.

More than just a slip
With 26 minutes gone in the game between Tunisia and Gabon, Tunisian striker Armine Chermiti showed all of his speed of thought and feet by intercepting a shallow back pass. Goalkeeper Didier Ovono realised the imminent danger and came rushing out, but Chermiti showed skill in gliding past him. With only a simple side-footed effort needed to claim the goal, he slipped and the chance went begging. It was the closest Tunisia got to claiming their first win of the tournament.

The goals just keep on coming
Given his predatory instincts, it is no wonder Samuel Eto’o is the all-time leading goal scorer in the Nations Cup. That record was extended to 17 goals on Sunday with a typical finish from the three-time African Footballer of the Year. Somen Tchoyi’s inviting cross in the 72nd minute was poorly dealt with by the Zambian defence, with a nervous clearance striking Eto’o and falling invitingly in the penalty area. Before any of the Zambians could react, Eto’o was on to the ball like a flash and thundered a shot into the back of the net.

Three that went by
Gabon’s Eric Mouloungui had three memorable chances to take the lead for Gabon against Tunisia, twice with his head and once with a rasping shot from some distance out. His enterprise, however, was not matched by his finishing and all the chances went wide, marking narrow escapes for Tunisia. The worst miss came in the 18th minute when he was left completely unmarked, but he watched in horror as his header flew off target.

The stat
11 – The number of goals scored in two successive group matches played between Cameroon and Zambia at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations. In Ghana two yeas ago, Zambia were defeated 5-1, but on Sunday it was a much closer yet equally entertaining affair.

What they said
"We showed the quality of the lion and fought right to the end for the three points.” Veteran Cameroon defender Geremi, who scored a goal when his cross from the right bobbled through Zambia goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene’s hands.

Tomorrow's matches
Angola - Algeria (18 Jan. 16:00 GMT)
Mali - Malawi (18 Jan. 16:00 GMT)

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