Inter's unlikely 2009-10 Champions League success under Jose Mourinho could inspire Cameroon to a shock World Cup triumph in Qatar, according to the former Nerazzurri and Indomitable Lions striker Samuel Eto'o.

The Cameroon great was part of the Inter side that completed a stunning treble in 2009-10, winning a fifth consecutive Scudetto, the Coppa Italia and their first Champions League or European Cup title in 45 years.

Diego Milito's brace was enough to down Bayern Munich in the final of UEFA's elite club competition, with Eto'o assisting the Argentina international for his second goal to wrap up victory.

Inter overcame Chelsea and Barcelona either side of defeating of CSKA Moscow en route to the final, and Eto'o – who is now president of the Cameroonian Football Federation – optimistically believes his country can follow the Nerazzurri's example at Qatar 2022.

"I don't see why he can't win it," he told reporters in Milan, where the 41-year-old has returned to announce a charity friendly game in San Siro on May 23 that will include the likes of Francesco Totti and Lionel Messi.

"I believe that in order to win the World Cup you don't need to be monsters or aliens, you need good preparation, a strong mentality and a pinch of madness.

"I won a bit in my career and to do it I gave everything. 

"I always take Inter as an example: no one at the beginning of the 2009-10 season thought we could win [the Champions League] and instead Mourinho did something crazy, with a group of men and warriors.

"I would like something like that for Cameroon too."

Cameroon's best performance at a World Cup saw them famously reach the 1990 quarter-finals, but they did not make it out of the group in any of their other six participations, failing to even register a point at either South Africa 2010 or Brazil 2014.

Having missed out on Russia 2018, Cameroon will have to overcome the world's number-one ranked side Brazil, Serbia and Switzerland in Group G later this year.

Tite says Brazil were dealt with neither the group of "death nor of life" after they were drawn to face Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon in the 2022 World Cup.

The Selecao faced Switzerland and Serbia in the last World Cup in Russia four years ago, so there was a sense of deja vu when the draw was made in Doha on Friday.

As the top-ranked side in the world, Brazil will be expected to win Group G, which also includes Cameroon.

But Brazil boss Title says there will be no room for complacency.

He told reporters: "It is neither [the group] of death nor of life. Everything is the same [as Brazil’s group at Russia 2018] – all that was missing was Costa Rica!

"We're talking about Switzerland and Serbia, the teams who stopped Italy and Portugal, and also a Cameroon team that is very strong in Africa.

"We will have to raise our own game."

All three of Brazil's opponents qualified for the tournament as group winners, but Tite is focused on ensuring his side are in the best possible condition to take the tournament by storm.

"That is part of the chapter of a book. Now it's another reality, another moment," he said.

"We have to consolidate this work now. There are eight, nine more months until the end of the year. We have to confirm an evolution of the team, to affirm the quality of the team, that the athletes individually can be in their best condition.

"We have to do an invisible job of monitoring them, which for the fans maybe do not see, but it's the medical follow-up, the physical follow-up, the follow-up of the technical commission with the athlete himself.

"All this [while] respecting their clubs. We have to have all the follow-up and guidance so that they can be in the best conditions, apart from the preparatory games that we will have until the World Cup. This is the most important thing for me."

Brazil will face Serbia in their opening game of the tournament on November 24.

Tite says Brazil were dealt with neither the group of "death nor of life" after they were drawn to face Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon in the 2022 World Cup.

The Selecao faced Switzerland and Serbia in the last World Cup in Russia four years ago, so there was a sense of deja vu when the draw was made in Doha on Friday.

As the top-ranked side in the world, Brazil will be expected to win Group G, which also includes Cameroon.

But Brazil boss Title says there will be no room for complacency.

He told reporters: "It is neither [the group] of death nor of life. Everything is the same [as Brazil’s group at Russia 2018] – all that was missing was Costa Rica!

"We're talking about Switzerland and Serbia, the teams who stopped Italy and Portugal, and also a Cameroon team that is very strong in Africa.

"We will have to raise our own game."

All three of Brazil's opponents qualified for the tournament as group winners, but Tite is focused on ensuring his side are in the best possible condition to take the tournament by storm.

"That is part of the chapter of a book. Now it's another reality, another moment," he said.

"We have to consolidate this work now. There are eight, nine more months until the end of the year. We have to confirm an evolution of the team, to affirm the quality of the team, that the athletes individually can be in their best condition.

"We have to do an invisible job of monitoring them, which for the fans maybe do not see, but it's the medical follow-up, the physical follow-up, the follow-up of the technical commission with the athlete himself.

"All this [while] respecting their clubs. We have to have all the follow-up and guidance so that they can be in the best conditions, apart from the preparatory games that we will have until the World Cup. This is the most important thing for me."

Brazil will face Serbia in their opening game of the tournament on November 24.

Qatar 2022 is fast approaching and the anticipation will surely be at its most intense so far when Friday's draw for the group stage is completed.

The Doha Exhibition and Convention Center plays host to the milestone event, which will see eight groups drawn from pots as the eventual storylines of the World Cup begin to unfurl.

Among the narratives that will start being mapped out on Friday is France's title defence, with Les Bleus hoping to become the first team since Brazil in 1962 to successfully defend their World Cup crown.

Ahead of the draw, Stats Perform provides a lowdown of all the key information…

 

How will the draw work?

Most of us have seen a draw and understand the general premise, but there's a lot of detail to consider before we end up with our completed group stage.

For starters, the draw (19:00 local time) will only include 29 qualified teams, with the other three spots to consist of a couple of intercontinental play-off slot placeholders and one UEFA play-off slot placeholder, with those nations to be determined later in the year.

The qualified teams will be sorted into four pots of eight, with their FIFA world ranking determining which they enter – joining Qatar in pot one will be the top seven teams, while the nations ranked eight-15 will be in pot 2, and so on. The three play-off slot placeholders will be drawn from pot four.

There will also be eight pots representing the groups, A to H. Each group pot contains four balls with position numbers, ranging from one to four, which correspond to the teams' respective starting position in the tables and subsequently impact their fixture schedule.

Team pot one will be the first to empty, with Qatar automatically drawn into slot A1. The other sides from pot one will go straight into position one of the remaining groups.

From then on, a ball is drawn from a team pot and followed by one from a group pot, determining that team's position – for example, the second nation drawn into Group A could be placed in slot A4. The process continues until each team pot is emptied, with pot four the last to be drawn.

Where possible, no group will contain more than one team from the same qualification zone, with the exception of Europe – so anyone hoping for an encounter like Brazil v Uruguay will have to wait for the knockout stage.

Thursday's release of the latest world rankings confirmed the make-up of the respective pots, so, without any further ado, let's take a look through them…

The Pots

Pot One:

Qatar (hosts)
Brazil
Belgium
France
Argentina
England
Spain
Portugal

 

Pot Two:

Denmark
Netherlands
Germany
Mexico 
USA
Switzerland
Croatia
Uruguay

Pot Three:

Senegal
Iran
Japan
Morocco
Serbia
Poland
South Korea
Tunisia

 

Pot Four:

Cameroon
Canada
Ecuador
Saudi Arabia
Ghana
Intercontinental play-off placeholder 1 
Intercontinental play-off placeholder 2
UEFA play-off placeholder

Luck of the draw!

It goes without saying that, theoretically, being in pot one means you would be favourites to win your group. But that's the beauty of football; practically anything can happen once you're on the pitch.

If we look back to the last World Cup four years ago, defending champions Germany were top of the FIFA rankings and in pot one, but then failed to get through the group stage for the first time ever.

 

But just as being in a higher pot is no guarantee of going deep into the tournament, who's to say how eventual 2018 champions France would have fared had they been in pot two?

Les Bleus were ranked seventh at the time so squeezed into pot one ahead of Spain. While that arguably gave them a trickier route to the final in the knockout phase, perhaps the tests posed by Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium were what kept them sharp all the way to the end?

This time around, Spain do appear in pot one. Portugal do as well, with Fernando Santos' men benefiting in that regard from European champions Italy's shock absence.

Nevertheless, there are some powerful teams in pot two. The Netherlands and Germany are undoubtedly the pick of the bunch there, both of whom will provide a stern test for any of the teams in pot one. Brazil v Die Mannschaft in the group stage, anyone?

There's a chance we could even see a repeat of the 2018 final in the group stage, with Croatia (pot two) able to come up against France in the opening round, while an England v United States showdown would surely capture the imagination of fans on both sides of 'the pond'.

We can expect to see plenty of quality in pot three as well, especially with Serbia, Robert Lewandowski's Poland and African champions Senegal present.

Among those in pot four are Canada. They may only be competing in their second World Cup and first since 1986, but John Herdman's team have won plenty of admirers en route to winning the CONCACAF qualifying section ahead of Mexico and reaching a record high of 33rd in the rankings.

 

Excitement, expectations and exoduses as Ronaldo and Messi look likely to bow out

Whether watching football on TV or from the stands, it can often be easy to forget that our heroes are just ordinary people as well. They are individuals who in all likelihood had the same hopes and dreams as many of us as children.

The glitz and glamour surrounding professional football can lead us to put footballers on a pedestal, but behind the sport's shiny facade, our teams are made up of – and coached by – people who are just as obsessed with the idea of the World Cup as anyone else.

England manager Gareth Southgate encapsulated the excitement earlier this week, as he said: "[The World Cup evokes] a different sort of feeling, but it's still a tournament we all watched as kids, we all filled our wallcharts out, we all hoped and followed when England were there that we would do well. And it's a unique chance to make history, so that of course is massively exciting."

Of course, that innocent excitement harbours expectation and hope for many, for others there will be a feeling of responsibility to amend the wrongs of the past.

This time around, that's arguably truest when looking at Germany, with Manuel Neuer fully appreciating he may not get another opportunity to put things right.

"I know that I will probably not get to play many more World Cups, so after crashing out in 2018 in Russia and our exit against England [at Euro 2020], it's important that we show a new version of ourselves and visualise success," the experienced goalkeeper said.

That finality Neuer alluded to is another key aspect of the World Cup. Given the four-year cycle of the tournament, every time we bid a fond farewell to a few greats of the game who opt to take advantage of the cyclical nature and end their international careers.

 

This time it looks as though Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – who for so long battled out their own personal 'Greatest of All-Time' rivalry – may be among those appearing on the World Cup stage for the last time.

"Goal achieved, we're at the Qatar World Cup. We're in our rightful place!" Ronaldo's Instagram post after Portugal's play-off success focused on the positive, but at 37, Qatar 2022 will surely be his final appearance at the tournament.

As for Messi, he said last week: "I don't know, the truth is I don't know. Let's hope [Argentina's preparations] go the best way possible. But for sure after the World Cup many things will change."

Exoduses after major international tournaments are common as teams reset or rebuild, but given what Messi and Ronaldo have represented on the pitch and the fact they've appeared at each of the previous four World Cups, their appearances at Qatar 2022 need to be savoured.

It all begins with Friday's draw, when narratives and talking points that'll live longer than any of us will start to take shape with the unscrewing of a few shiny plastic balls.

The Algeria Football Federation (FAF) has called for a replay of their World Cup play-off clash against Cameroon and lodged a complaint to FIFA over the refereeing, claiming the officiating "distorted the result".

Karl Toko Ekambi delivered the decisive strike in the 124th minute in Blida on Tuesday to condemn Algeria to a 2-1 aggregate loss on away goals, with Cameroon qualifying for Qatar 2022.

Islam Slimani saw two goals ruled out, the first in the second half and again in extra time, with referee Bakary Gassama initially allowing the latter finish to stand before using the pitch-side monitor to deem the Algeria striker had handled the ball.

Charaf-Eddine Amara has resigned as president of FAF left in the wake of Algeria's exit from World Cup qualifying, while the federation has lodged an appeal to world governing body FIFA.

"The Algerian Football Federation (FAF) has lodged an appeal with the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) against the scandalous arbitration which distorted the result of the Algeria-Cameroon play-off," the statement read.

"The FAF is determined to use all legally permitted means to have its rights restored and to replay the match under conditions guaranteeing the honesty and partiality of the arbitration.

"The FAF also requests the opening of an investigation by FIFA bodies to shed light on the arbitration of the Algeria-Cameroon match."

The draw for the group stage of the World Cup is set to take place on Friday.

It's nearly four years since Didier Deschamps became only the third man to win the World Cup as a player and coach, as he guided France to their second success on football's grandest stage.

The target now for Les Bleus is to become the first nation since Brazil in 1962 to retain their crown, and that journey begins on Friday with the draw for the group stage of Qatar 2022.

Four years is a long time to wait for anything, but the draw for the World Cup is always a milestone event that sees the anticipation taken up a notch.

The eyes of the football world will be on the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center, where the eight groups will be drawn and potential routes to December's finale can start being plotted.

But there is a little more to the draw than that…

 

How will the draw work?

Most of us have seen a draw and understand the general premise, but there's a lot of detail to consider before we end up with our completed group stage.

For starters, Friday's draw (19:00 local time) will only include 29 qualified teams, with the other three spots to consist of a couple of intercontinental play-off slot placeholders and one UEFA play-off slot placeholder, with those nations to be determined later in the year.

The qualified teams will be sorted into four pots of eight, with their FIFA world ranking determining which they enter – joining Qatar in pot one will be the top seven teams, while the nations ranked eight-15 will be in pot 2, and so on. The three play-off slot placeholders will be drawn from pot four.

There will also be eight pots representing the groups, A to H. Each group pot contains four balls with position numbers, ranging from one to four, which correspond to the teams' respective starting position in the tables and subsequently impact their fixture schedule.

Team pot one will be the first to empty, with Qatar automatically drawn into slot A1. The other sides from pot one will go straight into position one of the remaining groups.

From then on, a ball is drawn from a team pot and followed by one from a group pot, determining that team's position – for example, the second nation drawn into Group A could be placed in slot A4. The process continues until each team pot is emptied, with pot four the last to be drawn.

Where possible, no group will contain more than one team from the same qualification zone, with the exception of Europe – so anyone hoping for an encounter like Brazil v Uruguay will have to wait for the knockout stage.

Thursday's release of the latest world rankings confirmed the make-up of the respective pots, so, without any further ado, let's take a look through them…

The Pots

Pot One:

Qatar (hosts)
Brazil
Belgium
France
Argentina
England
Spain
Portugal

 

Pot Two:

Denmark
Netherlands
Germany
Mexico 
USA
Switzerland
Croatia
Uruguay

Pot Three:

Senegal
Iran
Japan
Morocco
Serbia
Poland
South Korea
Tunisia

 

Pot Four:

Cameroon
Canada
Ecuador
Saudi Arabia
Ghana
Intercontinental play-off placeholder 1 
Intercontinental play-off placeholder 2
UEFA play-off placeholder

Luck of the draw!

It goes without saying that, theoretically, being in pot one means you would be favourites to win your group. But that's the beauty of football; practically anything can happen once you're on the pitch.

If we look back to the last World Cup four years ago, defending champions Germany were top of the FIFA rankings and in pot one, but then failed to get through the group stage for the first time ever.

 

But just as being in a higher pot is no guarantee of going deep into the tournament, who's to say how eventual 2018 champions France would have fared had they been in pot two?

Les Bleus were ranked seventh at the time so squeezed into pot one ahead of Spain. While that arguably gave them a trickier route to the final in the knockout phase, perhaps the tests posed by Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium were what kept them sharp all the way to the end?

This time around, Spain do appear in pot one. Portugal do as well, with Fernando Santos' men benefiting in that regard from European champions Italy's shock absence.

Nevertheless, there are some powerful teams in pot two. The Netherlands and Germany are undoubtedly the pick of the bunch there, both of whom will provide a stern test for any of the teams in pot one. Brazil v Die Mannschaft in the group stage, anyone?

There's a chance we could even see a repeat of the 2018 final in the group stage, with Croatia (pot two) able to come up against France in the opening round, while an England v United States showdown would surely capture the imagination of fans on both sides of 'the pond'.

We can expect to see plenty of quality in pot three as well, especially with Serbia, Robert Lewandowski's Poland and African champions Senegal present.

Among those in pot four are Canada. They may only be competing in their second World Cup and first since 1986, but John Herdman's team have won plenty of admirers en route to winning the CONCACAF qualifying section and reaching a record high of 33rd in the rankings.

 

Excitement, expectations and exoduses as Ronaldo and Messi look likely to bow out

Whether watching football on TV or from the stands, it can often be easy to forget that our heroes are just ordinary people as well. They are individuals who in all likelihood had the same hopes and dreams as many of us as children.

The glitz and glamour surrounding professional football can lead us to put footballers on a pedestal, but behind the sport's shiny facade, our teams are made up of – and coached by – people who are just as obsessed with the idea of the World Cup as anyone else.

England manager Gareth Southgate encapsulated the excitement earlier this week, as he said: "[The World Cup evokes] a different sort of feeling, but it's still a tournament we all watched as kids, we all filled our wallcharts out, we all hoped and followed when England were there that we would do well. And it's a unique chance to make history, so that of course is massively exciting."

Of course, that innocent excitement harbours expectation and hope for many, for others there will be a feeling of responsibility to amend the wrongs of the past.

This time around, that's arguably truest when looking at Germany, with Manuel Neuer fully appreciating he may not get another opportunity to put things right.

"I know that I will probably not get to play many more World Cups, so after crashing out in 2018 in Russia and our exit against England [at Euro 2020], it's important that we show a new version of ourselves and visualise success," the experienced goalkeeper said.

That finality Neuer alluded to is another key aspect of the World Cup. Given the four-year cycle of the tournament, every time we bid a fond farewell to a few greats of the game who opt to take advantage of the cyclical nature and end their international careers.

 

This time it looks as though Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – who for so long battled out their own personal 'Greatest of All-Time' rivalry – may be among those appearing on the World Cup stage for the last time.

"Goal achieved, we're at the Qatar World Cup. We're in our rightful place!" Ronaldo's Instagram post after Portugal's play-off success focused on the positive, but at 37, Qatar 2022 will surely be his final appearance at the tournament.

As for Messi, he said last week: "I don't know, the truth is I don't know. Let's hope [Argentina's preparations] go the best way possible. But for sure after the World Cup many things will change."

Exoduses after major international tournaments are common as teams reset or rebuild, but given what Messi and Ronaldo have represented on the pitch and the fact they've appeared at each of the previous four World Cups, their appearances at Qatar 2022 need to be savoured.

It all begins with Friday's draw, when narratives and talking points that'll live longer than any of us will start to take shape with the unscrewing of a few shiny plastic balls.

Furious Nigeria supporters stormed the pitch at the National Stadium in Lagos after rivals Ghana sealed a World Cup spot at the expense of the Super Eagles.

Arsenal's Thomas Partey opened the scoring in the 10th minute for Ghana, before William Troost-Ekong levelled from the penalty spot for the hosts midway through the first half.

Nigeria could not find a crucial second goal, however, with Otto Addo's Ghana side holding on for the 1-1 draw, to progress to Qatar 2022 via away goals after a 0-0 draw in the first leg.

The result sparked ugly scenes inside the stadium, with videos on social media showing supporters leaving their seats and smashing equipment at the side of the pitch.

There was heartbreak for Mohamed Salah and Egypt after they suffered another dramatic penalty shoot-out defeat to Senegal.

Hosts Senegan recovered from a 1-0 first-leg deficit to beat Egypt by the same margin at the Abdoulaye Wade Stadium, before Salah, with dozens of laser pens seemingly pointing at his face, fired Egypt's first penalty of the shoot-out over the bar.

Mostafa Mohamed later failed with the visitors' fourth kick, allowing Salah’s Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane to slam his penalty past Mohamed El Shenawy and seal Senegal's progress, in a repeat of February's Africa Cup of Nations final triumph.

"We try our best but today was not enough," he wrote. "To all my players and my staff, [I give] my recognition and humble thank you.

"You will be always in my heart. It was my privilege to work and be helped by such dedicated and capable professionals and wonderful friends."

There was stunning late drama in Bilda as Karl Toko Ekambi scored late in extra time to seal a 2-1 win for visitors Cameroon against Algeria, the Indomitable Lions progressing to Qatar via away goals after a 2-2 aggregate draw.

Algeria thought they had sealed a place at the World Cup when Ahmed Touba cancelled out Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting's opener with two minutes remaining in extra time, but there was just enough time left for Ekambi to seal the most dramatic of victories.

Morocco also booked their place in Friday's World Cup draw with an emphatic 4-1 win over Democratic Republic of Congo. A brace from Azzedine Ounahi, as well as goals from Tarik Tissoudali and Achraf Hakimi, sealed a 5-2 aggregate win over DR Congo, who scored a late consolation through Ben Malango.

Meanwhile, a 0-0 draw for Tunisia against Mali was enough to see the former seal their own place in Qatar after they managed a 1-0 win in the first leg.

Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana incredibly walked away without serious injury from a major car crash on his way to join up with the Cameroon national team on Tuesday.

Onana, who is expected to join Inter at the end of the season on a free transfer, was travelling from the capital Yaounde to the port city of Douala, where the Indomitable Lions are gathering ahead of their World Cup play-off against Algeria.

Local media showed pictures of the car in which Onana was travelling, and another vehicle, with the front part of each being badly mangled.

Onana, 25, was taken from the crash site to the Cameroon team base and posed for pictures, appearing unhurt; however, it was determined he should head for hospital check-ups.

"Andre Onana is fine," the team's official Twitter page stated. "The Indomitable Lions goalkeeper joined his team-mates in the den in Douala this morning.

"More fear than harm for the moment after the traffic accident he suffered early this morning in Sombo on the Yaounde to Douala axis.

"Andre Onana will undergo in-depth examinations in a referral hospital centre in Douala."

Cameroon will host Algeria in the first leg of their play-off on Friday, with the second leg taking place in Blida next Tuesday. The aggregate winner will qualify for the Qatar 2022 finals.

Cameroon have sacked Toni Conceicao and appointed Rigobert Song as their new head coach.

The change of manager was made on the orders of the country's president, Paul Biya, on the back of last month's Africa Cup of Nations disappointment.

The Indomitable Lions had been targeting continental glory on home soil, only to suffer a penalty shoot-out defeat to Egypt in the semi-finals en route to finishing third.

Conceicao was appointed in 2019 and also guided Cameroon to the 2022 World Cup qualifying play-offs, with a two-legged tie against Algeria coming up later this month.

However, the 60-year-old will not be in charge for that upcoming double-header, with the Cameroonian Football Federation confirming his departure on Monday.

Cameroon announced shortly after that Song, the nation's most capped player with 137 appearances, will succeed Conceicao with immediate effect.

A statement signed by Minister of Sports Narcisse Mouelle Kombi read: "On very high instructions from the President of the Republic, the coach of the men's national football team, Mr Antonio Conceicao, has been replaced by Rigobert Song.

"The Cameroonian Football Federation is invited to take the necessary measures for a rapid and harmonious implementation of these very high directives."

Song had spells with Liverpool and West Ham during his playing career and helped Cameroon to two Africa Cup of Nations crowns.  

The 45-year-old has more recently spent time coaching Cameroon's Under-23s side and had a short stint as caretaker boss of the senior side in 2018.

He will be assisted in the role by former Equatorial Guinea and Kenya boss Sebastien Migne.

Cameroon beat Burkina Faso on penalties to claim third place at the Africa Cup of Nations after recovering from three goals down at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo.

The tournament hosts trailed to strikes from Steeve Yago and Djibril Ouattara, either side of an Andre Onana own goal, with 49 minutes played of Saturday's third-place play-off.

But Stephane Bahoken pulled one back and substitute Vincent Aboubakar scored twice in the space of two minutes late on to force penalties, which Cameroon edged 5-3.
 

????????

The Indomitable Lions with a MASSIVE comeback to clinch the bronze medal #TotalEnergiesAFCON2021 | #AFCON2021 | #TeamCameroon | @FecafootOfficie pic.twitter.com/Ihu951cZTL

— #TotalEnergiesAFCON2021(@CAF_Online) February 5, 2022 Cameroon made nine changes from their semi-final loss to Egypt and that told when Yago volleyed in from an Issa Kabore cross.

Onana, one of those to retain his place in the side, comically deflected Kabore's cross into his own net and Ouattara headed in a third for Burkina Faso early in the second half.

After Bahoken fired in from close range with 19 minutes to go, half-time substitute Aboubakar headed in a second Cameroon goal and then poked home a third moments later.

That led to a shoot-out and, after the first five penalties were converted, Onana denied Blati Toure to tee up Ambroise Oyongo to convert the winning kick for Cameroon.

Mohamed Abou Gabal was the hero as Egypt reached the Africa Cup of Nations final at the expense of hosts Cameroon with a 3-1 success on penalties. 

After 120 minutes of scoreless action, goalkeeper Abou Gabal saved spot-kicks from Harold Moukoudi and James Lea Siliki before Clinton N'Jie completely missed the target. 

Egypt will take on Senegal in the showpiece on Sunday, though Carlos Queiroz will not be in the dugout after being sent off for two displays of dissent towards the end of normal time. 

In a low-tempo game littered with mistakes, the best chance of the first half came when Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui saw his header hit the post in the 18th minute. 

Mohamed Salah was presented with a glorious chance to open the scoring in the second half by a short back pass from Martin Hongla, but he was unable to round Andre Onana after the goalkeeper hared out of his box to intervene. 

Samuel Oum Gouet went close to scoring a goal of the tournament contender when his rasping 35-yard drive clipped the outside of the post, and Queiroz was sent off before the start of extra time. 

The additional 30 minutes were not enough to separate the sides, but Abou Gabal's heroics sent Egypt through to the final after they missed out on home soil in 2019. 

Cameroon captain Vincent Aboubakar has not been impressed by Mohamed Salah's displays and says the forward cannot consider himself on the same level as Kylian Mbappe.

Salah has scored two and set up another in five matches in Egypt's run to the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals, where hosts Cameroon await in Yaounde on Thursday.

The 29-year-old has also enjoyed another prolific campaign at club level, having scored 23 goals in 26 games for Liverpool in all competitions.

That compares to 19 goals in 29 matches for Paris Saint-Germain star Mbappe, who has made a slow start to 2022 with one goal in his first four appearances.

Indeed, Robert Lewandowski (34 in 28) and Karim Benzema (24 in 28) are the only players to outscore Salah among those from Europe's top five leagues this term.

However, speaking ahead of Thursday's meeting between Cameroon and Egypt, Aboubakar insists Salah is not currently on the same level as Mbappe.

"He is having a great season in the Premier League and is helping his country to advance in the competition. I wish him a lot of luck. May the best win," Aboubakar told RFI.

"He doesn't impress me much. I say it clearly because I'm an honest person and I have my way of seeing things.

"If he impressed me, I would say so. But he doesn't impress me much. He's a good player, he scores a lot but he doesn't produce a lot of stuff in the game.

"Of course, he's doing good stuff in the Premier League because he's been in a team that's been there for years. He's a good player but not at the level of some like Mbappe."

After scoring and assisting in the 2-1 quarter-final win against Morocco, Salah has been involved in 62 per cent of Egypt's AFCON goals since his competition debut in 2017 (8/13).

He trails Aboubakar in the race to be crowned the delayed 2021 edition's top scorer, though, with the Cameroon skipper leading the charts thanks to his six goals.

That is one goal more than team-mate Karl Toko Ekambi, with the pair responsible for all 11 of the hosts' goals up to this point.

Asked about his blossoming partnership with Toko Ekambi, Aboubakar said: "We are complementary to each other, but the most important thing is for the team to win.

"If me, Karl or any other player manages to score and Cameroon win, that's the most important thing. We must raise Cameroon to the top in this competition."

Two of African football's most renowned nations go up against each other in the second Africa Cup of Nations semi-final, with hosts Cameroon and Egypt set to clash.

This will be their 11th AFCON meeting, with no two teams facing each other more often in the competition's history, but there will be as much – if not more – attention on what occurs away from the pitch on Thursday.

It will be the first match to be played at the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde since January 24, when eight people died and 38 were injured in a crush prior to Cameroon's defeat of Comoros.

Cameroon great Samuel Eto'o, now president of the nation's football federation, has already landed himself in hot water for appearing to attempt to motivate the Indomitable Lions by suggesting they need to approach the match like "a war".

Egypt coach Carlos Queiroz strongly voiced his disapproval during a news conference, saying: "It is a very bad message to the people of Cameroon. I think he forgot that Cameroonian people died at the stadium a couple of days ago. To make this declaration of war before a game, I think he has learned nothing from being in professional football."

On the pitch, the omens appear to be against Cameroon.

No team have got beyond the semi-finals as a host nation since Egypt in 2006, with the Pharaohs going on to win the tournament – they repeated the feat in each of the next two editions.

Nevertheless, Cameroon's own semi-final record is good, progressing from seven of their previous nine such matches.

Either way, a giant of African football will be eliminated on Thursday.

Player to watch: Moumi Ngamaleu (Cameroon)

Most eyes will be on Mohamed Salah and Vincent Aboubakar, given they have been involved in more AFCON goals (nine) since 2017 than any other player, but in Ngamaleu, Cameroon have one of this edition's most threatening players.

The Young Boys winger is a real live wire out wide, but he also has significant capabilities in terms of his service.

Ngamaleu's nine chances created are the joint-most in the Cameroon squad, and he ranks much higher than anyone else in the tournament for expected assists (2.25). That gives those nine key passes an xA average of 0.25, which again makes him the most consistently threatening creator in the competition (minimum four chances created).

 

Karl Toko Ekambi scored both goals as hosts Cameroon booked their place in the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals with a 2-0 win over Gambia.

Gambia had surprised many by even making it out of the group stage in their debut participation in the tournament, before going on to eliminate Guinea in the last 16.

But the nation ranked 150 in the world – exactly 100 places below Cameroon – fell to a couple of Toko Ekambi strikes at Stade Omnisport de Douala on Saturday.

Cameroon dominated the first half but only seriously tested opposition keeper Baboucarr Gaye on one occasion through a Vincent Aboubakar header.

Lyon forward Toko Ekambi made the breakthrough for the home side five minutes into the second half, however, with a header across Gaye from a Collins Fai delivery.

Any hopes Gambia had of prolonging their magical run further were ended seven minutes later when Ekambi got in behind to convert Martin Hongla's cross from close range.

Egypt or Morocco, who meet on Sunday, await Cameroon in the semi-finals.

The Africa Cup of Nations has reached the quarter-final stage and Saturday's matches promise the chance of history.

Host nation Cameroon will meet Gambia in the competition for the first time, their second successive game against tournament debutants, something they last experienced way back in 1972.

Tunisia meet Burkina Faso in the later match looking to end a fairly rotten recent record at this stage of the AFCON, although history favours their opponents.

Two of Egypt, Morocco, Senegal and Equatorial Guinea will lie in wait for winners...

 

Gambia v Cameroon (16:00 GMT)

Cameroon have enjoyed facing AFCON debutants of late: including their 2-1 win over Comoros in the last round, they have won three consecutive matches against such opposition, which is more than they managed in their first six such games.

Gambia, who surprised Guinea in the last 16, are bidding to become the first team to reach the semi-finals in their first Africa Cup of Nations since eventual winners South Africa did so back in 1996.

Unbeaten in their past eight matches in all competitions, Cameroon have progressed from two of their most recent three AFCON quarter-finals, having gone through on penalties against Senegal most recently in 2017. Defeat to Gambia, the smallest nation on the African mainland and one who had never before reached a major tournament, would go down as one of the competition's greatest upsets.

Yet for Musa Barrow, whose goal sent them into the last eight, there is little pressure.

"Everyone is happy back home," he told AFP. "It is a small nation. We love football. People learn football from the street so coming to this AFCON, reaching this stage is a big improvement, and it is going to take the Gambian name to higher heights.

"We have nothing to lose, but they are the host nation. If they lose it is going to be a big disaster for them."

One to watch: Vincent Aboubakar (Cameroon)

Gambia will need little incentive to keep an eye on Cameroon's captain and most dangerous striker, but Aboubakar is chasing not just a place in the semi-finals here.

Not only has he scored in each of his past six games in the competition, but he could also become the first player in AFCON history to net in a team's first five matches at a single edition of the tournament.

 

Burkina Faso v Tunisia (19:00 GMT)

Tunisia might be favourites - they are ranked 30 places higher in the world than Burkina Faso - but, in the previous two meetings at the AFCON in 1998 and 2017, it was the Stallions who progressed at the quarter-final stage.

In fact, Burkina Faso have gone through from each of their three last-eight matches in this competition, a record only Mali can better (they have won each of their five previous quarter-finals).

No team has made it to this stage more often since its introduction in 1992 than Tunisia, who are 11-time quarter-finalists now, but this has not been a happy round for Mondher Kebaier's side: they have been eliminated from five of their past six such matches.

Still, after knocking out Nigeria in the last 16 despite COVID-19 cases badly depleting their squad, perhaps this will be their year.

One to watch: Youssef Msakni (Tunisia)

Msakni's winner against Nigeria saw him become the first Tunisia player to score in five different editions of the AFCON. There are only four players to score in six: Cameroon great Samuel Eto'o, Zambia's Kalusha Bwalya, and Ghana forwards Asamoah Gyan and Andre Ayew.

 

Page 1 of 3
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.