Cameroon and Burkina Faso have a chance to end their campaigns on a high. It can only be one of them.
“I hope to win because if we don’t reach the objective of at least reaching the final, it’s going to be a difficult journey. We have to be mentally strong so we can at least reach the final. If we don’t, it will be difficult for us, the technical staff, to deal with the criticism, because people here don’t forgive failure.” said Toni Coincencao (Cameroon’s head coach).
After suffering the ignominy of being knocked out on penalties by Egypt at the semi-finals, a bronze medal is the only way the indomitable lions can reward their loyal fans for their support.
The pair put on a show in the opening match of the competition. Cameroon came out on top with a 2-1 win. The stallions were seeking revenge against the hosts. Cameroon would need to repeat or better that performance to seal their spot as the third-best team in the competition.
Burkina Faso had a stellar run in the competition. They were strong, resilient, and relentless. They surpassed expectations and seemed unstoppable before being knocked out by Senegal.
The stallions have now featured in their second third-place match in three editions of the competition. They finished second in 2013 losing to Nigeria in the final before they settled for bronze in 2017. Certainly, big overachievers, their run would give them enough boost to try and snatch the bronze medal from a devastated Cameroon side.
Manchester City loanee Issa Kobore’s cross was finished off by Steeve Yago and the Indomitable Lions found themselves on the back foot early on. Cameroon 0-1 Burkina Faso.
Just before halftime, there was more trouble. Kabore added a second in the most bizarre circumstances. His cross from the byline was deflected by Andre Onana into his net and confusion ensued. VAR was called into action. There were claims the ball had gone out of play in the build-up to the goal. After checks were complete, the goal was given. Cameroon had it all to do, they were 2 goals down at the stroke of halftime. Cameroon 0-2 Burkina Faso.
Toni Conceicao could not have been happy with what he saw from the first 45 minutes. Something had to change. Cameroon could not afford another disappointment. To show his intent to change the game, he brought in his top goal scorer and talisman, Vincent Aboubakar.
It didn’t look like much would change though. Four minutes after the restart, Aston Villa’s Bertrand Traore sent a long pass which found Djibril Ouattara. He made no mistake and buried it to send the Burkina Faso fans into a frenzy. Cameroon 0-3 Burkina Faso.
The Stallions were riding to victory. The finish line was in sight. They just had to hold on to their lead long enough. In the 71st minute, a rebound fell kindly for Stephane Bahoken. He rifled home to give the Lions a glimmer of hope. Cameroon 1-3 Burkina Faso
The former Porto man Aboubakar hadn’t scored in his last two games, but his country needed him now and he turned up in style. With five minutes left till the end of the 90, he was on hand to head home a corner. Cameroon 2-3 Burkina Faso. Cameroon were back in with a shout. They couldn’t, could they?
Burkina Faso held a three-goal lead for 70 minutes. However they were powerless to resist the roar of the Lions. They crumbled under pressure. A blunder from Soufian Farid Ouedraogo gave Aboubakar a tap in. Cameroon 3-3 Burkina Faso. Things were all square with three minutes to go.
Both teams gave their all, but it came down to penalties. Ibrahim Toure was denied by Andre Onana. His miss sealed his team’s fate. They threw away a three-goal lead and missed out on a bronze medal. Toni Conceicao and all of Cameroon will breathe a sigh of relief. They spared their blushes. Despite the disappointment of not reaching the final, they have secured the bronze medal.