African Cup of Nations – Cameroon prevail in thriller
A second-half fightback saw Cameroon save their African Cup of Nations campaign with a 3-2 win over Zambia in Lubango.
Zambia took an early lead through Jacob Mulenga after a bad error from Rigobert Song, though Zambia ‘keeper Kennedy Mweene dropped a real clanger with 25 minutes remaining, diving over Geremi‘s harmless punt towards goal.
With the Zambians still reeling, Samuel Eto’o put his side ahead four minutes later, charging down a clearance and finishing low past Mweene, though a penalty from Christopher Katongo with 10 minutes to go pulled Zambia level.
The match was settled in the 86th minute as Mahammadou Idrissou outjumped his marker to plant a fine header past Mweene from Geremi’s long ball forward.
The result moves Cameroon up into second in Group D, while Zambia are rock-bottom in fourth position.
Though Cameroon went into the match as hot favourites to bounce back from their defeat to Gabon, it was the pressing and energy of the Zambian midfield that set the tempo, and they took the lead through their first big attack of the match.
Felix Katongo stormed down the right wing, before pulling a dangerous ball back across the face of goal that Song inexplicably headed straight at his ‘keeper Carlos Kameni from point blank range. The ball rebounded clear to Mulenga, who had the easiest of tap-ins.
With James Chamanga hustling Alex Song out of the game in midfield, Zambia looked good value for their lead, and would even have gone two up had Kameni not pulled off a superb double-save to keep out efforts from Rainford Kalaba and Katongo.
Mulenga passed up a chance to grab his second of the game on the hour mark as he somehow failed to get on to the end of a free-kick swung in from the right when left unmarked by the Cameroon defence.
The Zambians were made to pay almost immediately, albeit through a dreadful error from their goalkeeper. Geremi punted the ball goalwards, purely trying to save a throw-in, and the effort turned out to be a vital equaliser as Mweene let the ball squirm under his body.
Within four minutes the indomitable Lions were ahead with Eto’o scoring his 17th African Cup of Nations goal.
Zambia refused to let their heads drop however, and deservedly won a penalty when Kameni came racing from his goal and upended Malenga just inside the area, before Katonga coolly converted the spot kick.
The Cameroonians were not done, however, and substitute Idrissou proved the matchwinner, heading home Geremi’s seemingly harmless long ball forward.
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Michael FitzGerald / Eurosport