17 January 2017

Cameroon/Guinea Bissau: Indomitable Lions - Potential Winners or Also-Rans?

Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Sébastien Siani of Cameroon celebrates one of the goals that saw his side overcome Guinea-Bissau. Twitter: @kvoostende

Cameroon coach Hugo Broos spoke at length prior to the start of the African Nations Cup about the fact that there are no weak sides in the competition, something he will remind his players ahead of their second Group A clash against Guinea-Bissau on Wednesday.

Both sides played to 1-1 draws in their opening fixtures in Saturday, with Guinea-Bissau holding hosts Gabon and the Indomitable Lions letting a lead slip against Burkina Faso.

Cameroon, even if they are devoid of some of their top talent in Gabon due to pre-tournament withdrawals, will be heavy favourites, but Guinea-Bissau showed both in the qualification for the finals and in their opener, that they may carry the "minnow" tag but are no pushovers.

"I was a player at the World Cup but this is more intense than that. It is something special. This is Africa," Belgian Broos told reporters.

"In Europe there are a lot of international games where there is a six- or seven-goal gap between the teams but in the seven games I have had as Cameroon coach, I've seen there is hardly any difference between the teams.

"Here there are 16 teams who can win the Nations Cup and that makes it a very difficult assignment."

Cameroon cannot book their quarterfinal place in this match, but can take a big step towards the knockout stages with a victory.

Broos was critical of his side's profligacy in front of goal against the Burkinabe and will have to rectify this if they are to go far in the tournament.

In many ways, this match is a proper test of their title credentials against a team they should expect to beat. A convincing performance will raise hopes of their first title since 2002, otherwise they can perhaps best be placed into the also-rans "box".

Guinea-Bissau's coach Barico Cande admits he has no idea how far his side can go in the competition, but the draw with Gabon has been a good start.

A side without star names, they rely on their ability to act as a collective unit to get results, something that will be key again against Cameroon.

"We always said that we don't have top class players like Gabon but we have a very strong team and a good collective," Cande said.

"That's our strength. We got to this point because we worked hard as a unit and never gave up. But we are not getting carried away. There is a lot that we still need to do.

"We are going to take this gradually, step-by-step. This isn't the end. We won't stop here. We are an ambitious bunch."

Cameroon have played Guinea-Bissau on two previous occasions in Nations Cup qualifiers, the last in 2012, winning both games 1-0.

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