Dreams high as debutantes Comoros date hosts Cameroun in Round of 16

CAFonline

Cameroun coach Antonio Conceiçao has prepared his side with serenity taking cognizance that debutantes Comoros cannot and should not be taken lightly for their Round of 16 encounter this evening from 21:00hrs CAT.

“We know that we are going against a good team from the Comoros,” Conceiçao said at a prematch press conference. “We have studied our opponent who remains difficult.

“We must respect our opponent of the day even if they are playing their first AFCON. We are calmly preparing our meeting and our objective remains clear, the February 6th final.

“We have studied our opponents who remain difficult. It is true that it is not a team with a big name, but they have very good players. They are a disciplined team, focused and playing without pressure. The objective for us is to win to go further in the competition.”

His player Ambroise Oyongo Bitolo said: “We live in a family atmosphere with serenity, especially in our preparation. I’m a substitute but I don’t think about that.

“For me, coming out of a long injury, the important thing is to work at the service of the group and the Cameroonian people. The most important thing is the team.”

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Comoros captain Nadjim Abdou said they “are living a dream and the “hardest part is yet to come and for us, everything we are going through is a bonus”.

“Against Cameroon, we are going to play our usual game. We are calmly preparing for a match against to a great team.”

Comoros qualified for their first-ever AFCON and want to continue their dream even if the mission will be difficult against the host country.

“We know we are going to play against a great team, but all this is a bonus for us,” said the Comorian captain.

The team’s goalkeeper coach Daniel Padovani said: “We played our all-out during the group stage and that’s what allowed us to progress to the round of 16.

“We are experiencing an exceptional situation with several players and staff members affected by CoVID-19. We must manage this situation and find the necessary solutions. We will play with the same values, with our usual state of mind.”

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This will be the first AFCON encounter between the two sides while it will be just the third time that the tournament hosts will play a debutant in a knock-out round match, after Egypt vs Sudan in 1957 (semi-finals) and Ethiopia vs Tunisia in 1962 (semi-finals).

Cameroon have lost just one AFCON match since the beginning of the 2017 edition (P13 W6 D6 L1) – losing 3-2 against Nigeria in their Round of 16 match in 2019.

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Comoros, along with Gambia, could become the fourth team in the 21st century to reach at least the quarter-finals in their first participation at AFCON, after Equatorial Guinea (2012), Cape Verde (2013) and Madagascar (2019).

Cameroon have reached at least the quarter-finals in eight of their last 10 Africa Cup of Nations, although they have failed to do so in two of their previous three editions (group stage in 2015 and Round of 16 in 2019).

Cameroon’s Vincent Aboubakar, who is this tournament’s top scorer so far (5 goals), could become the first player to score more than five goals in a single edition of the AFCON since Egypt’s Hossam Hassan and South Africa’s Benni McCarthy (both 7) in 1998.