Cameroon’s squad (back L-R) goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa, defender Adolphe Teikeu, defender Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui, forward Jacques Zoua, midfielder Georges Mandjeck, forward Benjamin Moukandjo, (L-R) defender Ambroise Oyongo, midfielder Christian Bassogog, forward Clinton Njie, defender Ernest Mabouka and midfielder Sebastien Siani pose for a group picture ahead of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations group A football match between Burkina Faso and Cameroon at the Stade de l’Amitie Sino-Gabonaise in Libreville on January 14, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Steve JORDAN
Senegal coach Aliou Cisse insists that Africa Cup of Nations opponents Cameroon are favourites to win the eagerly-awaited quarterfinal in Franceville today.
Pundits beg to differ, though, making the Senegalese Teranga Lions favourites not only to reach the semifinals, but to go on and win the competition for the first time.
Senegal impressed when winning Franceville-based group B, defeating Tunisia and Zimbabwe by 2-0 scorelines before starting with 10 reserves in a 2-2 draw against Algeria.
Cameroon came second in Libreville-based group A, drawing 1-1 with Burkina Faso, edging Guinea-Bissau 2-1 and holding Gabon in a 0-0 stalemate, a result which eliminated the 2017 hosts.
Cisse sounded like a Cameroon praise-singer as he spoke ahead of the last-eight showdown, the fourth meeting between the countries in the Cup of Nations with the Indomitable Lions holding a 2-1 advantage.
“Cameroon are the favourites,” he stressed. “They have won the Cup of Nations four times while Senegal have never won it. So, if there has to be a favourite, it must be Cameroon.
“The Indomitable Lions have great players and an experienced coach. I and my team are very honoured to meet them.”As to being tournament favourites, former national team star and captain Cisse was having none of that either.
“How can we be favourites when you have the likes of Ghana, Morocco and the Democratic Republic of Congo still in contention?
“Ghana were finalists in the last tournament, Morocco have impressed and DR Congo exhibit tremendous potential.“For me, reaching the quarterfinals was a huge relief as Senegal have not been to the knockout stage since 2006 in Egypt.
“Our first goal was to qualify from the mini-league and the boys did that. Congratulations to them.”Cisse preferred not to dwell on the last Cameroon-Senegal clash — the 2002 final won 3-2 on penalties by the Indomitable Lions after 120 goalless minutes in Bamako.