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.

 

Africa Cup of Nations debutants Gambia have continued their impressive run with a shock 1-0 defeat of Guinea that sent the Scorpions into the quarter-finals.

Gambia caused something of an upset just by getting out of their group, as they finished second to Mali, but their campaign shows no sign of stopping after they saw off their West African rivals on Monday.

A tetchy first half had few highlights but both sides did eventually threaten just before the break, as Guinea's Mohamed Bayo was denied at point-blank range by goalkeeper Baboucarr Gaye and Ebrima Darboe shot agonisingly wide at the other end.

The breakthrough arrived 19 minutes from time – Musa Barrow profiting from a fortunate ricochet before bursting into the box and coolly slotting home.

Guinea briefly thought they had levelled soon after, only for Ibrahima Sory Conte II to be flagged offside – he was then caught in the face accidentally as Yusupha Njie was somewhat harshly sent off for a second booking.

The Syli Nationale piled pressure on in the latter stages, hitting the frame of the goal twice in quick succession, but Conte then received his marching orders for a similar offence to Njie and Gambia held out for a famous win that will in all likelihood see them face hosts Cameroon in the last eight.

Cameroon were hot favourites to book a quarter-final place even before Comoros revealed they must field an outfield player in goal for Monday's Africa Cup of Nations last-16 clash.

Now hosts Cameroon must keep their focus in the unusual circumstances, while tournament debutants Comoros surely need a footballing miracle.

That is Monday's second knockout game, and it comes after a tussle between Guinea and Gambia in Bafoussam.

Guinea v Gambia (16:00 GMT)

Guinea will be without Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita for this one, after he picked up a second yellow card of the tournament late on in the defeat to Zimbabwe last time out.

The clash at Kouekong Stadium is one between teams that finished second in their respective groups, and Gambia will hope their good fortune holds after arguably riding their luck to reach this point.

Tom Saintfiet's Gambia side have outperformed their expected goals (xG) total, scoring three times from an xG of 2.0, while conceding just once despite an expected goals against (xGA) tally of 4.7. The 3.7 gap between xGA and actual goals conceded was the highest of all teams in the group stage.

Gambia faced the most shots of all teams (58) in the group stage, but remarkably they still kept two clean sheets, including when they pulled off a shock 1-0 win over Tunisia.

Guinea underperformed in their shooting, scoring only twice from an xG of 4.0 across their three group fixtures.

Gambia coach Saintfiet said ahead of the game: "We are not afraid as we have been together with the players for over three years, meaning we have cohesion and great team spirit."

One to watch: Amadou Diawara (Guinea)

Guinea are looking to win their first knock-out match at the Africa Cup of Nations at the sixth attempt, having lost all five of their previous such attempts. Roma midfielder Diawara should be a key figure in their efforts to come through this one, bringing his plentiful Serie A experience to bear.

 

Cameroon v Comoros (19:00 GMT)

Considering Cameroon were the top scorers in the group stage with seven goals, Comoros would have liked their first-choice goalkeeper fit for this one. Second choice would have been fine, third choice a salvageable situation. But instead they are all out of keepers, with Salim Ben Boina injured and both Moyadh Ousseini and Ali Ahamada testing positive for COVID-19.

The minnows will hope their chosen emergency keeper proves a revelation at Stade d'Olembe, but the prospects for Comoros appear bleak, despite them reaching the knockout stages with a shock 3-2 win over Ghana.

This will be the first Africa Cup of Nations encounter between Cameroon and Comoros, who on Saturday reported a total of 12 COVID cases in their camp.

Cameroon have reached at least the quarter-finals in eight of their last 10 Africa Cup of Nations appearances, although they have failed to do so in two of the previous three editions (group stage in 2015 and last-16 in 2019).

No doubt licking his lips at the prospect of facing Comoros will be Cameroon captain Vincent Aboubakar, top scorer in the tournament with five goals in the group stage. The last players to score more than five goals in a single edition of the Africa Cup of Nations were Egypt's Hossam Hassan and South Africa's Benni McCarthy (both 7) in 1998.

One to watch: The rookie goalkeeper

Whoever gets the gloves faces a daunting challenge. Cameroon attempted 35 shots in the group stage, more than any other side, and also tried 63 crosses (only Senegal and Egypt had more). Comoros shipped five goals in three games when they had a recognised goalkeeper, losing two of their three Group B games. They should be ripe for being picked off by the home team in Yaounde.

 

A superb 93rd minute strike from Ablie Jallow gave Gambia a dramatic 1-0 win against Tunisia, though both teams had already been guaranteed a place in the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations regardless.

Gambia ended the game being leapfrogged for top spot in Group F by Mali on goal difference, who beat Mauritania 2-0, and they will play Guinea in the round of 16, while third placed Tunisia will face Nigeria.

A relatively uneventful game in the main saw plenty of chances but few of note, with Tunisia's Ali Abdi going closest in the early stages as he cut inside from the left and saw his deflected shot fly just wide of the near post.

Ellyes Skhiri fired wide of the far stick with a well-hit effort on 41 minutes but shortly after Tunisia had a penalty when Seifeddine Jaziri was tripped by Pa Modou. Tunisia had missed their first two spot kicks of this tournament, which became three when Jaziri saw his penalty saved well down to his right by Baboucarr Gaye.

When the half-time whistle came, ill-tempered reactions by both teams as they headed off the pitch led to referee Fernando Guerrero Ramirez producing a red card to Tunisia's substitute goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mustapha.

Gambia showed a bit more intent in the second half with Jallow firing wide before Musa Barrow hit the woodwork with a fierce free-kick, but it took until the closing seconds of stoppage time for the deadlock to be broken as Jallow took down a cross from the left and fired the ball hard and high past Bechir Ben Said to win it for the Scorpions.

Algeria could become the second major casualty of the Africa Cup of Nations as the group stages are concluded on Thursday.

The defending champions head into their final – and arguably toughest – Group E match in a desperate position after failing to impress in their first two outings.

Thursday will also bring an end to Group F, where Algeria's neighbours Tunisia have plenty of work to do as well.

Ivory Coast v Algeria (16:00 GMT)

With one point from two matches, Algeria head into matchday three bottom of Group E and staring into the abyss of elimination.

Only a victory against group leaders Ivory Coast will be enough to take them into the knockouts, otherwise they will fall at the first hurdle for the third time in five AFCON tournaments.

Ivory Coast will be hoping to gain a measure of revenge for their 2019 quarter-final penalty shoot-out defeat to the Fennec Foxes, with the Elephants heading into the game unbeaten in five AFCON games.

They too have something to play for, with top spot still up for grabs.

One to watch: Youcef Belaili (Algeria)

You certainly cannot fault the effort of winger Belaili, given his eight shots is three more than any of his team-mates and he has also tallied the most touches in the opposition's box (11), but there is little getting away from the fact Algeria in general need to sharpen up in front of goal if they are to avoid following Ghana into shock elimination.

 

Sierra Leone v Equatorial Guinea (16:00 GMT)

Before the tournament started, few would have given this pair much hope of finishing in the top two, yet either could grasp that opportunity on Thursday.

Equatorial Guinea are second and hold a one-point advantage, meaning a draw may well be enough to get them through at least as one of the best third-placed teams.

But Sierra Leone drew 2-2 with Ivory Coast last time out following a goalless stalemate with Algeria – the results showed they are not to be taken lightly.

Equatorial Guinea will be favourites, however, and they have only ever lost two of their eight AFCON group games.

One to watch: Mohamed Nbalie Kamara (Sierra Leone)

Kamara has been one of the standout goalkeepers at the tournament so far. His 12 saves are the most of anyone, and those stops have seen him record a 'goals prevented' record of 2.1, the second-best record among keepers at the AFCON.

 

Gambia v Tunisia (19:00 GMT)

Although Tunisia could potentially sneak through as one of the best third-place teams with their current haul of three points, it would be a disappointing group stage total for a side that came into the tournament with high expectations.

Yet the Carthage Eagles' situation is slightly complicated by the fact they recorded seven new positive COVID-19 cases in the build-up, with key players Wahbi Khazri and Ali Maaloul among them.

That will be a boost to Gambia, however, with the Scorpions aiming to become only the third AFCON debutants this century to go unbeaten in the group stage.

But Tunisia have not lost to an AFCON debutant since the 1996 final.

One to watch: Hannibal Mejbri (Tunisia)

Manchester United youngster Hannibal has been used sparingly in this tournament, playing just 45 minutes so far. Yet, his tally of two chances created is only bettered by Khazri and Maaloul (both on three), and given Tunisia's COVID-19 issues, a first start may be on the cards.

 

Mali v Mauritania (19:00 GMT)

A wonderful chance presents itself here for Mali, as they target topping Group F.

If they better Gambia's result against Tunisia, that is exactly what they will achieve, as well as extending their longest ever group stage unbeaten run to seven matches.

Anything other than a Mali win would be a significant surprise given Mauritania are bottom of the group and pointless, their five goals conceded second-worse to Ethiopia, who have played a game more.

One to watch: Ibrahima Kone (Mali)

Kone has played a prominent role in Mali's solid start to the tournament, scoring a penalty in each of their two matches. If he nets against Mauritania, he will be the first Malian to tally get three goals in a single AFCON edition since former Barcelona midfielder Seydou Keita in 2013.

 

Musa Barrow's last-minute penalty rescued a point for Gambia in their 1-1 draw with Mali at the Africa Cup of Nations.

There was late VAR drama at Stade Municipal de Limbe with referee Samir Guezzaz awarding of two spot-kicks in the final 11 minutes of the Group F encounter.

First, Ibrahima Kone slotted home from 12 yards for the second game running after Yves Bissouma was dragged down by Ebrima Adams in the box.

That was the 22nd goal that Mali have scored after half-time in the Africa Cup of Nations since 2010, with only Ivory Coast (25) doing so more often during that span.

The Eagles were on course to win their opening two games in the competition for the first time since 2004, until Bissouma was penalised for handball in the closing moments.

Having hit the crossbar with a brilliant first-half free-kick, there was no denying Barrow this time around as the Bologna forward calmly sent Ibrahim Mounkoro the wrong way to ensure a share of the spoils.

Sunday's action at the Africa Cup of Nations will see two former winners go in search of much-needed points.

Algeria, champions in 1990 and three years ago, were held to a surprise draw by Sierra Leone on matchday one and sit second in Group E.

North African neighbours Tunisia, who won the tournament back in 2004, started their campaign with a 1-0 defeat to 10-man Mali and are in desperate need of a result against Mauritania.

Mali will take on Gambia, while the Ivory Coast will look to consolidate top spot in their group when they meet Sierra Leone.

 

Gambia v Mali

Gambia are bidding to become the first debutants to win their opening two matches at the Africa Cup of Nations since Equatorial Guinea did so in 2012.

That said, Mali are on a run of three wins in five AFCON games – as many as in their previous 15 in the competition – and are looking for consecutive victories to start the group for the first time since 2004.

In what will be a first meeting of these sides in this tournament, the advice is to keep your eye on the action in the second half: in the past 12 years, Mali have scored 21 of their 31 goals in this competition after half-time, a figure second only to Ivory Coast (25).

One to watch: Hamari Traore

Rennes captain Traore made nine final-third entries against Tunisia, the most of any player, as he proved a dangerous outlet. He could be a major threat.

 

Tunisia v Mauritania

Tunisia's shock loss to Mali was their third in a row at the AFCON, something they last suffered in 2004. They have never before lost four consecutive matches at this tournament.

The 2004 champions are also enduring a four-game winless run in the group stage and were held to a goalless draw by Mauritania in 2019 in their only previous meeting in this competition.

Mauritania, still without a victory at the Africa Cup of Nations, will at least hope to end a three-game run without a goal.

One to watch: Wahbi Khazri

Khazri missed a crucial 77th-minute penalty against Mali during a frustrating performance. The Saint-Etienne forward will be more determined that anyone to make amends.

 

Ivory Coast v Sierra Leone

Ivory Coast are seeking a third consecutive win in the AFCON group stages, something they last managed between January 2010 and January 2013.

History is on their side against Sierra Leone: they won the only previous meeting at this competition 4-0 back in 1994, in which Joel Tiehi scored a hat-trick - something no Ivory Coast player has managed since in the AFCON.

Sierra Leone have not scored in five of their previous six games at this event, only managing to do so against Burkina Faso in 1996, but they do have a man in good form at these finals...

One to watch: Mohamed Nbalie Kamara

Having studied Algeria's Riyad Mahrez by watching Manchester City footage, Sierra Leone goalkeeper became a national hero for his performance in their opening game. He even won praise from the country's president, Julius Maada Bio, who delivered a personal message of thanks on social media.

Algeria v Equatorial Guinea

The third-highest-ranked African side were frustrated on matchday one, and there will be a determination to put things right.

They do at least boast an impressive defensive record, having gone unbeaten in nine matches in this tournament and kept six clean sheets in their most recent eight games.

Equatorial Guinea have won just one AFCON match since getting two victories on their tournament debut in 2012. Still, they were unbeaten in five games before these finals and beat Tunisia in World Cup qualifying towards the end of last year.

One to watch: Youcef Belaili

Belaili created six opportunities on matchday one, taking his tally to 18 in the competition overall. That is double the amount of chances created by any other Algeria player since his debut three years ago.

 

Gambia secured a historic win as they beat Mauritania 1-0 in their first ever game at the Africa Cup of Nations on Wednesday.

It was a tight Group F contest between two of the newer nations on the elite African football scene, with this being Gambia's first ever appearance in AFCON and only Mauritania's second after making their debut in the 2019 tournament.

The Scorpions did not have to wait long for their first AFCON goal as Bologna's Musa Barrow laid the ball off to Ablie Jallow on the edge of the penalty area in the 10th minute, and the winger fired a left-footed effort past the dive of Babacar Diop and into the far right corner.

Barrow tried an ambitious volley from long range that swerved comfortably wide as Gambia looked to add another, but Mauritania slowly began to grow into the game before half-time, with former Fulham striker Aboubakar Kamara a constant presence in attack.

It should have been 2-0 early in the second half when a free-kick from Ebrima Colley found Omar Colley at the far post, but the Sampdoria defender could not guide his header on target.

Mauritania showed little sign of finding an equaliser in the second half, with a hopeful appeal for handball following an Idrissa Thiam free-kick about as good as it got for Didier Da Rosa's men, while Diop was forced to make a smart save from Barrow late on.

Wednesday sees the last remaining Africa Cup of Nations group get under way, with Tunisia and Ivory Coast set to be the biggest draws.

Both countries have designs on going deep into the tournament and will be eager to make positive starts to ensure they are not playing catch-up.

While Tunisia and Ivory Coast have racked up 44 AFCON qualifications between then, Gambia will be making their bow.

 

Tunisia v Mali (13:00 GMT)

Africa's second-highest ranked nation, Tunisia, are appearing in a 15th successive AFCON this year, setting a new record.

But they have only been beyond the last eight once (in 2019) since winning the tournament as hosts in 2004. The Carthage Eagles are, some might say, frequent under-achievers at this level.

Yet they head into the tournament in reasonably good shape having reached the final of last month's Arab Cup, only losing to AFCON champions Algeria after extra-time.

Mondher Kebaier will be expecting first opponents Mali to represent their toughest challenge in Group F, with the Eagles having never lost their AFCON opener (W6 D5).

One to watch: Hannibal Mejbri (Tunisia)

Manchester United midfielder Hannibal started all six of Tunisia's games as they reached the final of the Arab Cup. He may not feature quite as prominently in a full-strength squad, but he possesses the kind of off-the-cuff abilities that could help unlock stubborn defences. Expect him to draw a lot of fouls, such is his natural talent.

Mauritania v Gambia (16:00)

Gambia, along with the Comoros, are one of two nations debuting at the AFCON this year and will be eager to produce a positive showing.

In theory, they begin with arguably the most winnable of their three Group F games, with Mauritania coach Didier Gomes Da Rosa likening the match to a "semi-final".

His counterpart Tom Saintfiet has a better-travelled squad, however, his selection made up mostly of Europe-based players – Sampdoria, Gent, Spezia, Real Valladolid and even Roma are among the clubs represented.

The west-African nation may be the lowest-ranked team in the competition (150th), but they reached Cameroon as the only side to come through both the preliminary and group stages of qualifying, shocking Gabon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola to top the table.

One to watch: Musa Barrow (Gambia)

Barrow is one of six Gambia players to ply his trade in Italy, though the 23-year-old is the most polished. The left winger also has an end product, with his 24 non-penalty Serie A goal involvements since the start of last season a highly respectable effort that is bettered by only 15 players.

 

Equatorial Guinea v Ivory Coast (19:00)

Ivory Coast might have gone all the way back in 2019 were it not for their somewhat surprising penalties elimination by Algeria in the last eight.

They are among the favourites once again and will have a shot at revenge when they meet Algeria in Group E, a clash that will likely determine who finishes top.

But first they tussle with an Equatorial Guinea side competing for the first time as a non-host nation, having been knocked out by Ivory Coast in the last eight 10 years ago and then reaching the semis in 2015.

Juan Micha's side will do well to see off the Elephants here, though, with Ivory Coast suffering just two defeats in their previous 20 AFCON group games.

One to watch: Sebastien Haller (Ivory Coast)

Ajax striker Haller is having an incredible season at club level, boasting a goals haul of 22 across between the Eredivisie and Champions League already. In fact, his 10 strikes in Europe made him the quickest player to reach double figures for career goals in the Champions League (six games), and he matched Cristiano Ronaldo's record of scoring in every single game in a single group stage.

 

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