14, January 2022
Hosts Cameroon became the first team to qualify for the knockout stages of the Africa Cup of Nations on Thursday as captain Vincent Aboubakar and Karl Toko-Ekambi both scored twice in a 4-1 demolition of Ethiopia in Yaounde.
It was a game that brought the tournament to life after a goal-shy first round of group matches saw a meagre total of just 12 in 12 encounters, four of which were penalties.
Cameroon had been the only team out of 24 at the tournament to score more than a single goal in their first match when a brace of Aboubakar spot-kicks saw them beat Burkina Faso 2-1 on Sunday.
Back at the same Olembe Stadium in the capital Yaounde they ran riot, although only after Dawa Hotessa gave Ethiopia a shock lead.
Lyon forward Toko-Ekambi quickly headed in the equaliser and then Aboubakar added a brace early in the second half before Toko-Ekambi completed the victory.
“We played well going forward but we still need to improve defensively. Things are only going to get tougher,” said Cameroon’s Portuguese coach Toni Conceicao.
Toko-Ekambi, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Collins Fai all also hit the woodwork for the Indomitable Lions, and the five-time African champions are now well-placed to finish top of Group A.
They are three points clear of both Burkina Faso and Cape Verde, who met in Thursday’s late game in Yaounde with the Stallions of Burkina Faso winning 1-0 thanks to a first-half goal by Hassane Bande, who belongs to Ajax.
Ethiopia, the 1962 champions, are left still looking for their first point and their first win at any Cup of Nations since 1976. This is their third appearance at the finals since then but they have now gone 10 matches without a win at the tournament.