African Cup of Nations – Daniel Cousin and Gabon stun Samuel Eto’o’s Cameroon
A goal from Daniel Cousin helped Gabon to a shock 1-0 win over Cameroon in Group D of the African Cup of Nations in Lubango, Angola.
Cousin exploited a defensive error to finish on 17 minutes and Cameroon – led by Internazionale’s former Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o – failed to turn possession into goals as they slumped to an embarrassing defeat.
Cameroon were dreadful and Gabon – who only had three real shots on goal all match – did not even play particularly well, making plenty of defensive errors and with keeper Didier Ovono as shaky as he was agile.
Indeed, only centre-halves Mose Brou and Bruno Ecuele emerged from the game with much credit, while Cameroon counterparts Rigobert Song and Nicolas N’Koulou put in abject performances.
Monaco’s 19-year-old defender N’Koulou had an especially bad game, making a host of errors to pour cold water on an alleged transfer to Arsenal.
He was directly responsible for the only goal of the game, failing to clear a simple ball that led to Rigobert Song mis-clearing Roguy Meye’s clumsy ball into the path of Cousin, who could not believe his luck at being handed the freedom of the penalty area to drill into the bottom left.
The defensive hesitance was shown in the first minute, when Alex Song gave the ball away to let Ambourouet in, with Carlos Kameni saving.
Ovono made two good stops, from Landry N’Guemo and Achille Emana on six and eight minutes, as Cameroon seemed to have settled into a rhythm that would yield a win.
Then came Gabon’s shock goal, and from that point on the Lions were anything but Indomitable and nervously capitulated.
They kept the ball well enough until the final third, when mostly they misplaced their passes or made poor decisions to shoot from distance.
When they did have opportunities, they were wasteful.
Ovono made one spectacular 20th-minute stop from Achille Webo, but he also made several howlers, dropping a Geremi free kick and lucky to see it bounce wide and later flapping at a corner but saved by his defenders.
Cameroon’s lack of confidence at the back rubbed off on the usually reliable Carlos Kameni, the Espanyol keeper dropping two straightforward wide deliveries as his team-mates panicked around him.
As the match wore on Cameroon looked to Eto’o, who was anonymous and largely isolated on the left wing.
Somen Tchoyi was brought on by Lions boss Paul Le Guen but, a few promising runs down the right aside, he laboured along with his colleagues as Gabon sensed victory and launched a rearguard action.
Early in the second half, Webo missed a gilt-edged chance, heading wide from close range after Tchoyi’s whipped cross, while the Osasuna striker was denied by Ovono minutes later when his flicked header from a Geremi corner was tipped away by Ovono.
On the hour mark Emana smashed over after Gabon went to sleep at a quickly-taken free-kick as Cameroon tried to turn the screw.
Ovono prevented a bizarre own-goal by heading a fiercely-driven backpass wide for a corner, while Ovono used his feet to deny Emana again.
Eto’o got a rare chance, making a mess of the finish after being played in by Jean Makoun, while Tchoyi hit a drive wide after a clever turn.
Geremi, who was Cameroon’s brightest spark from dead balls in particular, forced a decent stop from Ovono with a long-range free-kick as Cameroon huffed and puffed in the final minutes.
The best chance for a second goal fell to Gabon in the end – Lille’s on-loan Milan youngster and former France U21 forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sending a brilliant free-kick crashing off the bar – and when six minutes of injury time were up Alain Giresse‘s side celebrated on the pitch like they had won the tournament.
Cameroon must now get four points from games against Tunisia and Zambia to have any chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals.
African Cup of Nations: Thursday 3.45pm Mali v Algeria / 6.15pm Angola v Malawi LIVE on British Eurosport (Sky 410 / Virgin 521) and Eurosport Player