Burkina Faso clinched a place in the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations despite being held to a 1-1 draw by Ethiopia in their Group A finale.

Finalists in 2013, Burkina Faso do not look like threatening to go that far on this evidence, with Ethiopia unfortunate not to claim all three points.

Ethiopia striker Getaneh Kebede saw a bending effort kept out of the top-left corner by Sofiane Ouedraogo in the 10th minute.

They had four shots on target in the first half but it was Burkina Faso who had the only one to find the net, Cyrille Bayala lofting over Teklemariam Shanko after latching on to Adama Guira's superb chipped pass in the 24th minute.

Kebede was then denied again by Ouedraogo from close range, but he eventually got his reward for an impressive performance from the penalty spot.

Steeve Yago was adjudged by the VAR to have handled a free-kick in the area and Kebede coolly stroked into the bottom-left corner from 12 yards seven minutes into the second half.

But the draw proved enough to send Burkina Faso through as Cape Verde – whom they beat in their previous encounter – also drew 1-1 with group winners Cameroon. Ethiopia go home with just a point to their name from only their second AFCON appearance since 1982.

Monday sees the conclusion of Group A of the Africa Cup of Nations, with three sides still hoping to reach the knockouts.

While host nation Cameroon have already secured their last-16 spot, any of Burkina Faso, Cape Verde and Ethiopia could yet join them in the next round.

Ethiopia's qualification would truly seem miraculous given they lost their opening two games and have failed to win any of their previous 10 matches in this competition.

Yet in a tournament that has already seen a few shocks, few would rule out another famous result.

 

Burkina Faso v Ethiopia

Ethiopia are on a four-match losing run at the AFCON, and they have only once endured a longer such streak, losing five in a row between 1968 and 1970.

They also suffered a 4-0 defeat to Burkina Faso in the only previous meeting of these sides in this competition, in what was the Stallions' biggest victory in the tournament.

However, despite losing 1-0 to Cape Verde and 4-1 to Cameroon at these finals, Wubetu Abate's men can still clinch a top-two finish with a win on matchday three. A high-scoring win would see them snatch second place should the hosts win the other game, while they could still end up as one of the top four third-place finishers.

"We did everything to put in a good match and a good performance against Cameroon," said Abate. "We scored a goal early in the game but couldn't keep the score in our favour.

"We are learning in the big competitions. Experience has made the difference between us and the Cameroon team. Each match has its characteristics. The matches are different but we try to show our abilities and play good football."

One to watch: Gustavo Sangare

Burkina Faso could finish second even with a defeat as long as Cape Verde lose, but the man best placed to get them all three points could be Sangare. Scorer of the opening goal of the tournament against Cameroon, he has attempted more shots (four) and created more chances (six) than any other player for his side.

 

Cape Verde v Cameroon

Although they have twice had to come from behind, Cameroon have looked impressive in these finals, their 4-1 thrashing of Ethiopia guaranteeing their spot in the last 16.

Should Toni Conceicao choose to rest any of his stars, this could prove to be a far trickier test given Cape Verde's recent defensive record.

They had lost only once in their previous eight AFCON matches before a 1-0 defeat to Burkina Faso, and that was the only time in their most recent four games in the competition in which they conceded a goal. They have faced difficulties in the opposition box, though, failing to score in three of their past four AFCON matches.

There is plenty to admire about Cape Verde's approach, even if goals have been a little hard to come by. They have recorded more sequences of 10 passes or more than any side at these finals (24), while a high-pressing approach has yielded 13 high turnovers, a figure bettered by only four teams.

One to watch: Kenny Rocha Santos

No Cape Verde player has attempted more shots (five), created more chances (two) or made more recoveries (13) than Kenny Rocha Santos. The 22-year-old Oostende midfielder also leads his side for shot-ending sequence involvements (eight) and shot-ending carries (two). Little wonder there is talk of interest from Liverpool.

 

Cameroon captain Vincent Aboubakar led from the front with a clinical double as the Africa Cup of Nations hosts swept to a 4-1 win over Ethiopia.

At the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde, Aboubakar and Karl Toko Ekambi feasted on generous defending to make it two wins from two for Cameroon. For Aboubakar, this was his second double in AFCON so far, after also scoring twice in an opening win over Burkina Faso.

Ethiopia stunned the home crowd with a fourth-minute opener, Dawa Hotessa tucking in from close range after some dismal defending. But there was a near-immediate response, Cameroon levelling with a fine header from Toko Ekambi in the eighth minute.

Aboubakar saw a 25-yard shot repelled by Ethiopia goalkeeper Teklemariam Shanko in the lead-up, but Collins Fai collected the loose ball wide on the right and sent in a fine cross for Toko Ekambi to finish clinically at the far post.

It was another cross from Fai that caused chaos in the Ethiopia penalty area and allowed the hosts to edge 2-1 ahead in the 53rd minute. The delivery came from the right once more, and Aboubakar powered his header down into the ground and into the back of the net.

Aboubakar's second arrived two minutes later, the striker tucking in Nicolas Moumi Ngamaleu's low cross from the edge of the six-yard box. Toko Ekambi, who also hit the post with a header, completed his own double with a powerful low shot in the 67th minute as Ethiopia's defence stood off, unable to handle Cameroon's quality once more, the story of the game encapsulated.

Africa Cup of Nations hosts Cameroon are back in action as the second matches of the group stage get under way.

Thursday sees Group A take centre stage, with Cameroon facing Ethiopia and Cape Verde taking on Burkina Faso.

Cameroon, champions in 2017, of course have the aim of going all the way on home soil to claim their sixth AFCON title. A win, combined with victory for Cape Verde, would see both progress to the knockout stage with a game to spare.

Cameroon v Ethiopia (16:00 GMT)

Cameroon are ranked 50th in the world by FIFA, making them the seventh-best side in the competition, but tournament hosts always have that extra impetus to go all the way.

Captain Vincent Aboubakar scored both of Cameroon's goals in a 2-1 win over Burkina Faso in their opening match, and victory over Ethiopia – who the Indomitable Lions beat 3-2 in their only previous AFCON encounter in 1970 – will take them through.

Ethiopia are looking to bounce back from their 1-0 loss to Cape Verde. They are winless in their last nine AFCON matches (D3 L6), the longest current such run among teams in this year's competition.

Cameroon, meanwhile, are unbeaten in their previous seven group stage games (W3 D4), last losing in January 2015 (0-1 against Ivory Coast). The five-time champions are aiming to win their opening two games at an AFCON for the first time since 2006. 

One to watch: Vincent Aboubakar

Former Porto forward Aboubakar was Cameroon's Mr Reliable with two penalties in their comeback win over Burkina Faso. Having now scored in his last two AFCON appearances, he will become the first player to net in three consecutive games in the tournament for the Indomitable Lions since Samuel Eto'o in January 2008 (five in total) if he scores on Thursday.

 

Cape Verde v Burkina Faso (19:00 GMT)

While most of the attention will be on Cameroon, Cape Verde can also book their passage on Thursday.

Cape Verde saw off Ethiopia thanks to Julio Tavares' first-half goal, while Burkina Faso were downed by Aboubakar's two penalties in the space of eight minutes.

This will be the first AFCON encounter between the nations, with Cape Verde looking to remain unbeaten in their opening two games for the third straight tournament, having also done so in their two previous participations (two draws in both 2013 and 2015).

Burkina Faso, meanwhile, are looking to avoid suffering consecutive defeats in a single edition of the tournament since 2012, when they lost all three group matches.

With four of the best-ranked third-placed teams progressing to the knockout stage, Burkina Faso will surely go all out for victory to put themselves firmly in contention despite their opening defeat to Cameroon.

One to watch: Gustavo Sangare (Burkina Faso)

Sangare marked his AFCON debut with the opener against Cameroon and was a standout performer, creating a game-leading four chances. No Burkina Faso player has scored in successive AFCON matches since Alain Sibiri Traore in January 2013.

 

Julio Tavares' first-half goal proved enough for Cape Verde to get their Africa Cup of Nations campaign off to a winning start against 10-man Ethiopia.

Ethiopia's appearance in this year's finals marks only their second in the last 20 editions of the tournament and for them the Group A encounter began in inauspicious fashion.

They saw centre-back Yared Baye sent off after a review from the VAR in the 12th minute.

Baye hacked down Tavares on the edge of the box after losing possession inside his own half.

Cape Verde finally capitalised on their extra man in first-half stoppage time, Garry Rodrigues volleying Jamiro Monteiro's deep cross to the far post back across goal for Tavares to nod in.

Despite dominating possession and chances, Cape Verde could not add to their lead in the second half, but it mattered not with Ethiopia never threatening to find an equaliser.

After delays, postponements and date changes aplenty, the Africa Cup of Nations will finally start on Sunday, as hosts Cameroon take on Burkina Faso.

Group A will also pit Ethiopia and Cape Verde against each other on the opening day, with both eyeing up the possibility of staking their claim for a qualification spot behind favourites Cameroon.

But, as may have been expected of a tournament that has had more than its fair share of issues in the build-up, another problem has reared its head on the eve of the big kick-off.

Cameroon v Burkina Faso (16:00 GMT)

Burkina Faso are questioning the validity of the COVID-19 testing that was done on their squad, with "four or five" players and head coach Kamou Malo returning positive results.

They claim an unknown medical team turned up at their hotel to test the team and staff, but they refused to take them after the African Football Confederation (CAF) confirmed the people who had showed up were not sent by tournament organisers.

When the CAF delegation did show up, four positive tests came back and one was inconclusive, with Burkina Faso now demanding new swabs be taken.

Captain Bertrand Traore told reporters: "It's a scandal, we cannot be deprived of first-team players 24 hours before the match.

"The authorities must review the organisation. We cannot accept this decision. We can redo tests of our positive players."

Either way, Cameroon know the pressure is on for them to claim a sixth AFCON title, with this their first tournament as hosts in 50 years.

One to watch: Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa (Cameroon)

AFCON has never been short of flair players, and in Zambo Anguissa Cameroon have a player really capable of getting fans off their feet. The Napoli man is a fascinating midfielder to watch due to his ability running with the ball. In Serie A this season, his 65.9 per cent dribble success is bettered by only seven midfielders (min. 25 dribble attempts, 500 minutes played), playing an important role in getting the Partenopei out of tight situations and onto the front foot.

 

Ethiopia v Cape Verde (19:00 GMT)

Four of the six teams to finish third in their group will go through to the next stage, so while that takes away some of the jeopardy for the best teams, it also provides more of a chance for those nations who would not otherwise expect to get far.

With Ethiopia and Cape Verde avoiding Cameroon on matchday one, both will fancy their chances of getting off to a positive start – and three points could be all they need to qualify as one of the best third-placed teams.

Cape Verde have been impacted by a COVID-19 outbreak, though, with coach Roberto Lopes among those infected.

Ethiopia are seemingly in better shape, with coach Wubetu Abate keen to show off their gifted young players.

"We respect our opponents, but we are confident in our talent," he said. "Our goal is not to just participate, but to show the world that Ethiopia has young talented players who can surprise."

One to watch: Amanuel Gebremichael (Ethiopia)

Ethiopia lost talisman – and one of just two foreign-based players – Shimelis Bekele to injury, meaning they will need others to step up. Most of the goalscoring burden is on the shoulders of Getaneh Kebede, but Gebremichael has a skillset that should make him a threat, boasting plenty of speed and the ability to get in behind defences.

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