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Remake of the CAN-2017 final, the second semi-final of the African Cup of Nations sees Cameroon and Egypt compete. This will be the 11th CAN meeting between the Pharaohs and the Indomitable Lions, a record.
It is just before 10 p.m. on February 5, 2017. Cameroonian striker Vincent Aboubakar controls a long ball and shoots the Egyptian goalkeeper in the CAN final. A goal in the 88th minute which offers Cameroon its fifth African Cup under the helpless gaze of Mohamed Salah.
Five years later, the two selections have another meeting, this time for the semi-final of CAN-2022, at the Olembé stadium in Yaoundé. Vincent Aboubakar and Mohammad Salah are now captains of their team, each on a mission to bring home the trophy. Moreover, proof of their importance, since the beginning of 2017, no player has been involved in more goals (9) in the African Cup of Nations than Egypt striker Mohamed Salah (6 goals, 3 assists decisive) and that of Cameroon Vincent Aboubakar (7 goals, 2 assists).
A gala poster since at the kick-off at 8 p.m., Thursday February 3, there will in theory be no less than 12 cumulative coronations on the ground: 7 for Egypt and 5 for Cameroon. The former Indomitable Lions star became president of the Cameroonian federation, Samuel Eto’o, set the tone in a video widely distributed on social networks. He is martial.
“Get ready because it’s going to be war! War guys! This is how we should approach this game! War! You can’t pass up this chance to see that light… Impossible guys “, launched Samuel Eto’o in the locker room of the Indomitable Lions.
A “bad message”
A declaration of war that Egypt coach Carlos Queiroz had little taste for: “It’s a very bad message for the people of Cameroon (…) I think Eto’o forgets that Cameroonians died (eight of them, editor’s note) died at the stadium a few days ago”, in reference to the deadly stampede before the host country’s round of 16 against Comoros.
For the coach of Egypt, this sentence is “very, very unfortunate, because football is not war, it is celebration, joy, happiness”.
“We are here to make people happy, not to kill them, so to start the Cameroon team in a war against us is a comment that I leave in the hands of the CAF (African Football Confederation), because it’s a red card,” he threatened.
Egypt excels tactically
The Portuguese coach, who passed through Real Madrid, prefers to bring the debate back to the field. A field where he excels. The debates during the group stage on the lack of clarity of his tactics seem far away. Since the start of the knockout phase, observers have understood one thing: this Egypt knows how to outsmart its opponent, it is even made for that.
In the round of 16, she thus reduced the midfielder and the impressive line of attack of the Ivory Coast, before winning on penalties. On the next turn, it’s the Morocco of Vahid Halilhodzic who was the victim, forced to lead a physical combat for 120 minutes. The young Moroccan team was not ready for the Egyptian vice.
The Portuguese part of the coach leads him to greet his opponent and compatriot Toni Conceiçao, coach of the Indomitable Lions: “A nice guy, from the old generation of Portuguese coaches, like me”.
“He is doing a brilliant job here in Cameroon, underlines Queiroz, as a friend and colleague I wish him the best for all the matches he will play in his life… except the next one!”
A Cameroonian attack on fire
Toni Conceiçao can also count on the freshness of the Indomitable Lions: at home, in ideal conditions, they are less exhausted than their opponents who have, in addition, already played two long overtimes.
Cameroon can therefore believe in its chances of reaching the final. In the past, he won 7 of the 9 finals in which he participated. But only one team has done better with 8 wins: Egypt…