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While game one between Burkina Faso and Tunisia will be exciting and rekindles memories of their epic encounter 19 years ago with hosts Burkina Faso winning 8-7 on penalties after a 1-1 draw, the real humdinger will be between Senegal and Cameroon in the latter game.
Tournament favourites Senegal, (who topped Group B) [below] will be up against an improving Cameroon side who are beginning to roar. The Indomitable Lions haven’t exactly sent sparks flying in the competition but seem to improve from game to game.
A chaotic build-up to the tournament saw seven players withdraw from the squad which left coach Hugo Broos with a bunch of greenhorns to navigate through the competition.
Cameroon had to dig deep to qualify for the quarterfinals and will look to keep improving by upsetting the much-fancied Senegalese side.
The Teranga Lions, now coached by Aliou Cisse, have been the tournament’s stand-out side with the likes of Sadio Mane, Keita Balde and Kara Mbodji all contributing. Senegal won her first two games and then rested 10 players for the last group game against Algeria. It ended in a 2-2 draw, a result that showed the depth in the squad.
It is expected that Cisse will recall the players he rested against the Fennec Foxes as they aim to beat Cameroon and book a spot in the semifinal.
Road to quarterfinals
Senegal (Group B)
Senegal 2 (Sadio Mane, Kara Mbodji) Tunisia 0
Senegal 2 (Mane Saivet) Zimbabwe 0
Algeria 2 (Slimani-2) Senegal 2 (Diop, Sow)
Senegal topped the group with seven points ahead of second-placed Tunisia who had six points.
Cameroon (Group A)
Cameroon 1 (Moukandjo) Burkina Faso 1 (Issoufou Dayo)
Guinea-Bissau 1 (Bruno Silva Piqueti) Cameroon 2 (Sebastien Siani, Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui)
Cameroon 0 Gabon 0
Cameroon [above] qualified as the second-placed team in Group A with five points, behind group winners Burkina Faso on goals difference.
Coach Aliou Cisse will definitely ring changes to the team that will face Cameroon. He rested 10 players against Algeria but was still able to get a point from the game. Keita Balde, Kalidou Koulibaly, Idrissa Gueye and Sadio Mane are all expected to start against the Indomitable Lions.
Cameroon meanwhile have no injury problems and will probably go with the same line-up they put out against Gabon in their last group game.
Players to watch
Sadio Mane – Undoubtedly is the star attraction in a very strong Senegal side who have shown they are one of the top dogs for the title. The Liverpool striker has scored twice already in the tournament and will look to add to his tally in the quarterfinal. His pace, strength and finishing ability is well documented and Cameroon will have to find a way to shut him down. If they can do so, then they have a chance.
Cameroon are parading arguably their most inexperienced squad in years at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. A spate of withdrawals before the tournament began meant new faces populated the squad. One of the newbies –Christian Bassogog has had a break-out tournament and was one of the stars of the group stages.
Stockily built and quite fast, the Aalborg of Denmark striker has flourished from the wings for Cameroon and has chipped in with an assist. Blessed with pace and great technical skills, Bassogog alongside captain Benjamin Moukandjo will be the main men for Cameroon against a tough Senegalese defence.
Senegal: Diallo; Gassama, Mbodji, Koulibaly, M’Bengue, Ndiaye, Gueye, Kouyate, Balde, Biram Diouf, Mane
Cameroon: Ondoa; Mabouka, Ngadeu-Ngadjui, Teikeu, Onyongo, N’jie, Mandjeck, Siani, Bassogog, Moukandjo, Aboubakar
Head to Head
11 Apr 1963 Senegal v Cameroon W 1-0 French Colonial Tournament
24 Jan 1969 Senegal v Cameroon W 3-2 International Friendly
04 Mar 1971 Cameroon v Senegal D 1-1 International Friendly
08 Mar 1971 Cameroon v Senegal W 1-2 International Friendly
01 May 1982 Cameroon v Senegal L 2-1 African Friendship Cup
06 Mar 1990 Cameroon v Senegal W 0-2 Africa Cup of Nations
19 Jan 1992 Senegal v Cameroon L 0-1 Africa Cup of Nations
13 Jan 2000 Senegal v Cameroon D 0-0 International Friendly
10 Feb 2002 Cameroon v Senegal D 0-0 Africa Cup of Nations
09 Feb 2005 Cameroon v Senegal L 1-0 International Friendly
26 Mar 2011 Senegal v Cameroon W 1-0 Africa Cup of Nations
04 Jun 2011 Cameroon v Senegal D 0-0 Africa Cup of Nations