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Beaten in the semi-finals by Egypt, the Indomitable Lions will have to quickly digest this immense disappointment to try to finish this CAN at home with at least a bronze medal around their necks. In the “little final”, Cameroon faces Burkina Faso on Saturday, for a “remake” of the opening match of the competition.
After the opening match of the CAN-2022 win against Burkina Faso (2-1), Cameroonians surely did not expect to replay this poster, Saturday February 5, at the Ahmadou-Ahidjo stadium, for their last match in the competition. At least not that match, the “little final”, they who dreamed of playing the big one, Sunday, in front of their audience at the Olembé stadium.
But Egypt put an end to the dream of a whole country, by winning the semi-finals in a cruel penalty shootout for Cameroonians. Coach Toni Conceiçao did not hide his disappointment: “We will not be in the final, we are as sad as the 27 million Cameroonians, but that’s football.”
“You have to know how to get up”
A huge disappointment for the players, who will have to regain their strength, and their spirits, to save honor with a bronze medal. “When you’re a man, you fall, you have to know how to get up, that’s the mark of the greats, and that’s what we’re going to do”, philosophized in the mixed zone the Cameroonian midfielder André-Frank Zambo-Anguissa. “There are important deadlines coming up, already the match for third place and in March the qualifiers for the World Cup. We will try to remobilize quickly.”
Only two days after playing 120 intense minutes against Egypt, it will already be necessary to hold the physical challenge against a team from Burkina Faso who benefited from an additional day of rest after his semi-final lost against Senegal (1-3). The Cameroon coach has also planned to rotate his squad: “Scientifically, it is proven that the players will not have fully recovered (…). We will try to refresh the team. It’s impossible to field the same players after 120 minutes, only 48 hours later,” he announced at a press conference on Friday.
Overcome “the fear of losing”
In addition to the physical, it will also be necessary to find the mental resources for this meeting. “Emotionally, the players were very dejected. We will try to work on their motivation,” explained the coach. Because it is precisely the weak point of this team, analyzes Xavier Barret, columnist for France 24 and RFI : “Against Egypt, Cameroon let themselves be overwhelmed by the fear of losing, whereas until then, they had had a relatively easy course in the competition (…). At the mental level, they did not weren’t and collapsed.”
The Cameroonian striker Karl Toko-Ekambi, he appeared rather motivated: “We had a good tournament and now we are going to get this third place”, he told France 24 after the semi-final.
To reassure themselves, the Indomitable Lions can also remember the opening match, which they won 2-1 after being led and dominated at the start of the game, thanks to their providential striker Vincent Aboubakar.
But opposite, Burkina Faso arrives physically fresher, also with much less pressure, but the same ambition: “To nourish regrets would be to insult this course, declared after the defeat against Senegal the coach of the Stallions, Kamou Malo. I’m proud of the boys. We’re not going to give up, there’s a medal to go for.” A third place that Burkina Faso had just won during his last participation in the CAN, in 2017.