The battle for places in the semi-final stage of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations gets underway on Saturday, with hosts Cameroon leading the way.
While the tournament started with 24 teams, only eight are left in contention and half that number will return home after the matches this weekend are concluded.
The Indomitable Lions have a tricky clash against giant-killers The Gambia who are enjoying a dream debut at the continent’s biggest football competition.
Though five-time champions Cameroon are odds-on favourites, they would be doing themselves a lot of harm if they underrate the Scorpions who are fast becoming an emerging force in continental football.
Both teams are so far unbeaten in this tournament and have scored in each of their matches although Cameroon have scored five more goals than Gambia.
The Scorpions beat Mauritania and Tunisia (1-0) and drew against Mali (1-1) in the group stage before they beat Guinea 1-0 in the Round of 16 to set up a showdown with Cameroon. They boast an excellent defensive record, having conceded just once in their four matches.
The Lions will also boast about their superior attacking prowess, but they are not so secure at the back; and have conceded in all their games so far.
They started out with a 2-1 win over Burkina Faso, hammered Ethiopia 4-1 and were held to a 1-1 draw by Cape Verde in the Group stage.
Cameroon were also given a run for their money as they managed a 2-1 Round of 16 win over Comoros who played 83 minutes with 10 men and had a makeshift goalkeeper,
Apart from the clash in Douala, Burkina Faso will play Tunisia who edged out Nigeria’s Super Eagles in Saturday’s other quarter-final clash in Garoua.
The Carthage Eagles who scrapped into the knockout phase as one of the best losers beat three-time champions Nigeria by a lone goal to earn a berth in the quarter-final.
They are now hoping to push their luck further as they seek a second Afcon title; 18 years after their heroic feat on home soil.
Match Details: Gambia vs Cameroon
Date: 29 January 2022
Time: 5 pm
Venue: Japoma Stadium, Douala
Against Cameroon, we will not be afraid, we will play to the fullest. It’s a bonus match. We visited Limbé, Bafoussam and now Douala, and we want to continue to Yaoundé”. – Tom Saintfiet, Gambia Manager
“We have managed a positive course, a satisfactory record so far. Against Gambia, the objective is to win. We are a playful team that likes to take the game on its own. Against us. there will be a team that defends well and has 5-6 high quality attacking players. everything is possible even if we only consider victory.” – Antonio Conceiçao, Cameroon Manager
Match Details: Burkina Faso vs Tunisia
Date: 29 January 2022
Time: 8 pm
Venue: Roumde Adjia Stadium, Garoua
Tunisia is a good and cohesive team, but our side is armed with spirit and determination. The game will not be played on paper, but on the field. We don’t think about the past, but the present is always more important. We have a young ambitious team, and we can write our present and future.” – Kamou Malo, Burkina Faso Manager
Most of the teams that were candidates to play the quarterfinals are no longer here, and this indicates the strength of the competition. All the teams in the quarterfinals are on the same level. – Jalel Kadri, Tunisia Assistant Manager
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