By Tata Mbunwe
The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon have edged the Scorpions of Gambia 2-0 at the Japoma Stadium in Douala Jan. 29 to become the first team to qualify for the semi-finals of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
The victory has triggered mixed reactions from fans living in the Southwest’s regional headquarters, Buea, with some expressing hope Cameroon could claim its sixth AFCON trophy.
“From now I’m just hoping that Cameroon will play and they will win. I’m so impressed; I’m so happy that I could even go to Yaounde to watch the next match,” said Fritz Endo.
Also commenting on the match, Frankline Tanwi said, “it was not a bad encounter; at least it was better than the other match between Cameroon and Comoros. I think if Cameroon improves a bit it can sail through to the finals and why not take the cup.”
In Buea, there was a life and jubilation at spots where people had congregated to watch the encounter. From their reactions, they seemed more satisfied with the 2-0 win against the Gambia than with the previous 2-1 win Cameroon gave Comoros in the 16 finals of the tournament.
However, other fans think Cameroon could have done better than it did in the clash with the Gambia.
This fan, who refused to be named, says if the Indomitable Lions intend to succeed at the semi-finals, they must be willing to still improve on their performance.
“At this stage,” he said, “Cameroon going to the semi-finals will be very challenging because, if you look at teams like Morocco, Egypt, Senegal, they are still pending. And if any of these teams happen to face Cameroon, it is going to be a tough one. So that’s why I say they need to demonstrate a lot of momentum more than what we have witnessed today. Though it was a good match, I feel that there was still something lacking”.
The Gambia–Cameroon encounter had proved tough in the first half which ended goalless, despite targeted trials from the Cameroonian side.
With its five–three–three lineup, Gambia mounted a tough defense line for Cameroon
“All their defense was behind,” said Fritz Endo, “and fortunately for them, it was so difficult to score. But during the second half, after Cameroon scored them 1-0, they were able to go up front and find out if they could score.”
Cameroon’s two goals were all scored by Karl Toko Ekambi, who has now emerged among the top scorers in the ongoing tournament with five goals in five games.
Despite Gambia’s elimination from the Totalenergies AFCON2021, many have praised the team’s resilience in its first-ever AFCON outing.
“Gambia did extremely well for reaching this far for the first time. It’s better to try and fail than not to try at all. I don’t think anyone will ever call the Scorpions an underdog again,” said Henry Mark.
If they had defeated host Cameroon to qualify for the semis, Gambia would have become the first AFCON debutants to reach the semi-finals after South Africa in 1996.