27 January 2017

Senegal/Cameroon: Will Group Spirit Carry Senegal to Win Over Cameroon? #AFCON2017

Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Keita Baldé, du Sénégal

Senegal are hoping to turn their first round promise into knockout stage success when they take on Cameroon in the quarterfinals of the African Nations Cup finals in Franceville on Saturday.

Senegal looked very good in their Group B campaign, qualifying for the next round with a game to spare and making 10 changes for their final match which still resulted in a 2-2 draw with fancied Algeria.

They are now appearing in the knockout rounds for the first time in 11 years but will be wary that they have been tipped for success before only to fail dismally.

Previous squads have perhaps more star names, but not the same sort of cohesion and group spirit that the Class of 2017 has so far displayed, a fact backed up by midfielder Henri Saivet.

"We are ready for the match. We must work for this game. The work is very difficult but we do it every day. You will see Saturday,” Saivet told reporters, adding Cameroon would be a formidable opponent.

“It is not for us to say who is favourite. We will do our job to the end. We did not want to say we're favourites or it is they who are the favourites. We will work to prepare the game properly and play well.

"This is a difficult team to play, a team that is always at the ‘business end’ of the African Nations Cup. They have participated in a lot of international competitions. This will be a big game, this will be a very difficult game.

“We are preparing for it. There is not a lot of difference between the teams. The difference will be made in the small details. I hope this will be in our favour."

Cameroon coach Hugo Broos had said he hoped to avoid Senegal in the quarterfinals, but his side’s inability to beat hosts Gabon in their final pool match meant they had to settle for second in the pool.

“Senegal [is] the best team of the moment that is in top form. They make very good performances. They show that they are very strong, and they have a great chance to win this Nations Cup," Broos said.

“[But] If we play with a big heart like we always do, and have a better beginning of the game and end of the game, then there will be something great for us in the quarterfinal."

The match is a repeat of the 2002 Nations Cup final that was won on penalties by Cameroon, ensuring Senegal remain without a continental title to their name, something that is still true today.

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