Elimination games in any major tournament are special, but Cameroon’s Africa Cup of Nations match with Comoros had plotlines aplenty.
Comoros started a left back in goal, their first knockout round match challenged by a COVID-19 outbreak, and Les Coelacantes had the additional obstacle of staring down the heavily-favored hosts.
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Cameroon would advance with a 2-1 win that saw The Indomitable Lions up a man for 83 minutes but challenged every step of the way.
Comoros lost the match but fill-in goalkeeper Chaker Alhadhur did not embarrass himself at all in the marquee match of a day that saw three red cards across two Round of 6 matches.
Gambia beats Guinea, both finish with 10 men
Serie A veteran Musa Barrow scored the only goal of a match that finished with 20 men and saw Gambia seal its place in the final eight.
The 23-year-old Bologna man’s goal in the 71st minute means Gambia makes the quarterfinals in the first AFCON in its history.
The Scorpions won’t have Yusupha Njie, sent off just before the end of 90 minutes, but Guinea’s numerical advantage was extra short-lived due to an Ibrahima Sory Conte second yellow deep in stoppage time.
Guinea’s loss means Naby Keita will return to Liverpool… just in time for the international break.
Cameroon moving on feels a mere subplot
Comoros capture the imaginations of Africa when it qualified for the knockout rounds of its first AFCON, and this was before positive COVID-19 tests forced the new boys to start left back Alhadhur between the posts.
Video Assistant Referee further complicated Comoros’ hopes of upsetting the hosts when it changed Nadjim Abdou’s sixth-minute card from yellow to red, and Karl Toko Ekambi scored to put Cameroon ahead in the 29th minute.
Vincent Aboubakar assisted the opener and scored in the 70th minute to become the first player with five goals at a 21st century AFCON.
But Comoros would not quit, and Youssouf M’Changama set the stage for a wild ending when he pulled back a goal in the 81st minute.
Comoros ended the day with more shots on goal than Cameroon despite playing down a man for 83 minutes and holding just 34 percent of the ball. There will be a movie made about their first AFCON voyage, and we will watch it.
Chaker Alhadhur. We salute you. 🎩🇰🇲#TotalEnergiesAFCON2021 | #AFCON2021 | #TeamComoros | @fedcomfootball pic.twitter.com/H6jsjjHBeb
— #TotalEnergiesAFCON2021 🏆 (@CAF_Online) January 24, 2022