Football Features

Afcon action you might have missed as reigning champions Cameroon make perfect start

By Ben Green

Published: 20:07, 25 June 2019

As the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations heats up in Egypt, reigning champions Cameroon started their title defence with a 2-0 win over Guinea-Bissau, while Mali thrashed Mauritania 4-1.

In the Monday night fixture at the New Suez Stadium, the Eagles made light work of Mauritania by brutally dismantling the newcomers by a three-goal margin, courtesy of strikes from captain Abdoulay Diaby, Moussa Marega, Adama Traore, and his namesake, Adama Traore.

Meanwhile after a slow start at the Ismailia Stadium, Clarence Seedorf’s side eventually broke through Guinea-Bissau thanks to goals from Banana Yaya and Stephane Bahoken.

Those results ensure Mali sit top of Group E, and Cameroon are placed comfortably atop Group F, but what might you have missed from these two fixtures?

1. Double trouble Traore

As things stand no player at Afcon has scored more than a single goal in this year’s tournament, and well, it looked as though a certain Adama Traore ruthlessly exposed that statistic on Monday night, though on closer inspection, the Mali man’s brace was in fact two separate goals from two separate players – and no, neither was from Wolves’ explosive wide man.

In the 55th minute at the New Suez Stadium Cercle Brugge midfielder, Adama Traore, cropped up on the edge of the area and blitzed home Mali’s third of the match, before being taken off six minutes later for his namesake, Adama Traore – of US Orleans – who subsequently went on to inflict one final deep wound on debutants Mauritania.

2. Hacen the history maker

Newcomers Mauritania were given one of the most brutal introductions to the Africa Cup of Nations having never participated in the tournament before, and while they were unquestionably humbled by their next-door neighbours, they did manage to net a famous first ever goal.

That came courtesy of Real Valladolid’s 21-year-old midfielder Hacen El Ide, who cooly converted a consolation from the spot to gift his side an historic goal. The 37-time Al-Murabitun international will savour every moment of that finish despite the end result.

3. Marvellous Mali maintain perfect start

Having eased through their opening Group E match against their North African neighbours, Mali have now ensured their unbeaten run in the opening match of Afcon has remained intact. Les Aigles have stretched that insatiable record to six wins and five draws.

In truth, that was always going to be the case in Suez on Monday night, as Mohamed Magassouba’s side simply possessed far too much experience and European pedigree – with the likes of Moussa Marega and Amadou Haidara – to really struggle against a nation of Mauritania’s rawness in this competition.

Defeat for Mauritania by a three-goal scoreline has also confirmed that they are the first beginner team at Afcon to lose by such a margin since Sierra Leone in 1994, who suffered a 4-0 loss to Ivory Coast, with former Toulouse striker Joel Tiehi helping himself to a hat-trick that day.

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4. One-touch wonder

With the Cameroon-Guinea-Bissau match seemingly heading for a stalemate, centre-back Banana Yaya cropped up to relieve pressure for the defending champions with a bullet header in the 66th minute, and just moments later substitute Stephane Bahoken would put the game beyond Guinea-Bissau’s reach after netting with only his first touch of the match.

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A drilled delivery ricocheted off two Guinea-Bissau defenders before reaching the 27-year-old Angers forward, who was positioned just six yards from the net, and he duly converted his strike, making that just his second goal for the Indomitable Lions, and his first at the Africa Cup of Nations – with this being his first appearance at the famous tournament.

5. Cameroon maintain 100% Djurtus record

Cameroon have only faced Guinea-Bissau on four occasions in the past, but the Indomitable Lions have certainly lived up to their moniker, as they have now clinched a quadruple of victories in that time, making it a perfect record against the West African nation.

Incidentally these two nations faced each other in the group stages at the previous tournament – Guinea-Bissau’s first ever appearance at Afcon – where Hugo Broos’ side went on to beat Baciro Cande’s then debutant Djurtus 2-1 in Gabon. And of course, Cameroon subsequently went on to win claim their fifth Africa Cup of Nations gong that year.

6. Wayward Anguissa

On Monday at the Al-Salam Stadium in Cairo, Ivory Coast played out an uninspired 1-0 win against South Africa, with Fulham’s Jean Michael Seri a notable disappointment. The diminutive midfield maestro certainly possesses bags of ability, but very rarely did he demonstrate his innate talent on the pitch – nor did he in west London – and the same can be said of Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa.

This evening the 23-year-old certainly put him self about and produced an industrious performance in the heart of midfield, but his shooting ability was simply not up to the requisite standard for an international footballer. No player registered more shots in the match than Anguissa (five), with only one of his efforts actually hitting the target. Not renowned for his goalscoring ability, it’s clear to see why the midfield enforcer tends to sit back rather than contribute in the final third.

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