The hosts Cameroon and nine-time African champions Nigeria are the favourites for this tournament. They both started their campaigns with dominant displays in their respective groups. Nigeria thumped a helpless Mali 6-0 in Group B. The Indomitable Lionesses beat Egypt 2-0 to top Group A after the first round.
On Tuesday, at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Cameroon will be looking to qualify for the semifinals with a game to spare by collecting three points from Banyana. The South African side on the other hand is looking to kick start their AWC campaign after playing to a goalless draw in their opening match against Zimbabwe. The hosts have an edge over Banyana because of the vocal crowd that will back them even though they couldn’t beat Banyana in March this year when the two nations played two friendlies. Banyana won the first match 2-0 in Douala and drew 2-2 in Limbe in the second friendly.
“Those two friendlies, in Limbe and Douala, we were using a B-side,” Cameroon coach Enow Ngachu said. “We were trying to expand the pool of players to select from. There is only one player (Sonkeng Ysis Amariele) who played in those friendlies who is here at the Nations Cup. This is a completely different team. We have more experienced players now. We are expecting those experienced players to make the difference.”
One of the experienced players who can make a difference is Russian-based Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene. The 27-year-old has played in the Olympics and World Cup. The skilful midfielder is part of the just over 70% of Cameroon’s squad who are based abroad in some of the toughest leagues in Europe. Banyana only have two players, Jermaine Seoposenwe (USA) and Roxanne Barker (Netherlands) who ply their trade abroad.
“The number of players that a team has who are playing abroad doesn’t mean that they are superior to their opponents,” Onguene said. “You might have a good number of players playing abroad, say 20, but if you don’t have that zeal and urge to win and grab the points at your disposal, then you will have a difficult time. For instance, Zimbabwe doesn’t have that many players playing abroad. I stand to be corrected but I don’t think that they have a single player who plays abroad. But you can see that that team has the zeal and desire to win matches. That’s how they qualified for the Olympics. What is at stakes here are three points. Those who want these points the most will win, regardless of how many players they have who play in Europe.”
Original source: Cameroon already looking towards semis