3 February 2017

Cameroon/Egypt: Fairytale Run Takes Indomitable Lions to #AFCON2017 Final

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

Cameroon's fairytale run to the final of the 2017 African Nations Cup continues after a 2-0 victory over fancied Ghana sealed a date with Egypt in the decider in Libreville on Sunday.

Much like their quarter-final victory over Senegal, Cameroon weathered enormous pressure, profited from their opponent's wastefulness in front of goal, and pounced when the chance presented itself for them.

Goals from Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui and Christian Bassogog sealed the victory to leave Ghana's dreams in tatters as a sixth semifinal appearance in a row has still yet to provide a tournament win.

Cameroon coach Hugo Broos knows that if a side is patient enough in this competition, the opposition will make a mistake somewhere along the line and so it proved once again.

What looked a mix-up between defender John Boye and goalkeeper Razak Brimah from a free-kick saw the ball land invitingly for defender Ngadeu-Ngadjui and he seized the moment to finish.

After that the Black Stars were always chasing the game and having pushed men forward in the dying seconds, were caught on the break by Bassogog.

The young Cameroon side, without eight of their first team players following a mass withdrawal before the start of the tournament, had put aside yet another bonus row with their federation to put in a fine performance.

"It's a dream for us to go to the final," Broos told reporters. "I am very happy, especially for the team.

"It is an exemplary group on and off the field and they deserve to be in the final. Look what they [Ghana] did in the recent tournaments [reaching six successive Nations Cup semifinals].

"But since the beginning of this tournament we have shown that we play to advance in every game."

Perhaps it is a lack of 'big name' players and their respective egos that has galvanized this Cameroon squad.

"Maybe you will be surprised but in 29 years as a coach I have never had a group like this. They are 23 friends. I have never seen this," Broos added. "They are just 23 friends who like to play football and do everything to win the game, so for me it's very easy.

"This team came here and nobody believed in them. If you told someone before the tournament we would get to the final they would have laughed, but this for us was a big motivation."

The defeat casts a spotlight on Ghana coach Avram Grant, whose contract is up at the end of the tournament and is unlikely to be renewed, especially as the side has made a poor start to their World Cup qualification campaign as well.

"My future is not important now. What matters now is that we lost after a very good tournament," Grant insisted.

"I think we are successful even now. We didn't win the cup but we have had a good tournament. Today we were the better side, and in the last tournament we only lost on penalties.

"It is a good generation, a new generation, and I think they will win a lot of titles."

Ghana will meet Burkina Faso for the bronze medal in Port Gentil on Saturday.

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