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Lyon striker Karl Toko-Ekambi played a decisive role in Cameroon’s journey to CAN-2022, which enters the last four as home favourites. His speed, his game intelligence and his scoring qualities revealed him as the centerpiece of the Indomitable Lions. Portrait.
Cameroon, host country of the African Cup of Nations, logically finds itself in the last four of the competition, and will face Egypt, Thursday, February 3, for a place in the final. After an honorable course but hardly strewn with pitfalls, against Comoros in 8th (2-1) and Gambia in quarters (2-0), the Cameroon now assumes its role as favorite.
He owes it in large part to his star striker, Vincent Aboubakar, author of six goals in five matches, but also to his other striker, Karl Toko-Ekambi, more discreet but almost as effective (five goals in five matches), perhaps also because he is more forgotten by opposing defenders .
The opener against Comoros in the round of 16, while Cameroon stumbled against Petit Poucet of the CAN, deprived of a professional goalkeeper, is a perfect illustration of this: Aboubakar, in the area, offers a caviar to Karl Toko-Ekambi, who only has to adjust the Guardian.
Author of a double against Ethiopia in the group stage – a powerful header then a solitary raid in the area – the Lyon striker did it again quarter-final against Gambia, unlocking a completely locked match (2-0).
“All the qualities of a modern striker”
Born in 1992 in Paris and trained at Paris FC, he thought for a moment of stopping his career because of a knee injury, before returning and hatching with his training club, where he made his professional debut in 2010. -2011, in National (3rd French division).
After two good seasons at Sochaux (Ligue 2), he signed for Angers (Ligue 1) in 2016 and made a name for himself at the top level. Author of 17 goals in 37 matches for his second season in the elite, he becomes in 2018 the first Cameroonian to receive the Marc Vivien-Foé prize of the best African player in Ligue 1 awarded by RFI and France 24, ahead of Wahbi Khazri and Bertrand Traoré.
He then moved to Spain, to Villareal, where in 18 months he scored 24 goals and ten assists in 62 matches. Then it is the return to France, to Lyon, in 2019, where he occupies with the star striker of the time Memphis Depay the same supporting role as with Aboubakar in selection. “Toko Ekambi has all the qualities of a modern striker, explains to AFP his coach at the time, Rudi Garcia, and it is something very sought after: both vertical deep calls in the back of the defense and dribbling quality in one-on-one situations”.
Repeat the exploit of 2017
Qualities that he puts to the benefit of the Cameroonian selection since the start of this CAN, where, when Aboubakar does not score, he takes on the role of providential man: “When you do not have collective solutions, a player like he can score,” continues Rudi Garcia. What his coach Toni Conceiçao also confirmed, before the CAN, with AFP: “He is a very intelligent player. He reminds me of a hunter always on the lookout. Sometimes he goes unnoticed during the match and, d moment to moment he kills the encounter.”
Already winner of the CAN in 2017, Karl Toko-Ekambi dreams of repeating the feat and for that, he will have to beat Egypt in the semi-finals on Thursday, in a remake of the 2017 final.