Football

Resurgent Cameroon stand in Ghana's path

SEMI-FINAL
CAMEROON GHANA

 

The nearly men of African football in recent years, Ghana go into a sixth consecutive semi-final at the African Nations Cup when they face Cameroon tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

The Black Stars have not won the trophy since 1982, instead gaining a reputation for coming up just short all too often over the last decade.

Avram Grant's side lost on penalties to the Ivory Coast in the final two years ago, while their current run of near-misses began with a 1-0 defeat by Cameroon at home in Accra in 2008.

But, in Gabon, they have seemed like a side on a mission and standing in their way are Cameroon, a side dismissed by most observers before the tournament.

"In the group stage, Cameroon played well and, against Senegal, they were very impressive, so the semi-final is going to be tough," Grant said.

He will be eager to have skipper Asamoah Gyan - a survivor of the 2008 squad - back fit from the adductor injury suffered in their last group game against Egypt. It kept him out of their 2-1 quarter-final win over DR Congo.

Meanwhile, Cameroon have been preparing contentedly in the knowledge they have already exceeded expectations in making it this far.

Cameroon progressed from their group at the expense of hosts Gabon and then, in the quarter-final, edged out a much-fancied Senegal thanks to a Sadio Mane miss in a penalty shoot-out that followed a goalless draw.

They have put behind them the withdrawals of key players before the competition, including Joel Matip and Eric Choupo-Moting, and are flourishing under their Belgian coach Hugo Broos.

"Nobody was expecting us to be here but, from the first day of our preparations, we had been hoping to go as far as possible," fullback Collins Fai said.

"Those who didn't come have their reasons, we are not looking back. We are focused on those who are here. It is about the group, not one or two players."

They are also a young squad, but the defender remembers well the 2008 win against Ghana at the same stage.

"I remember I was at home, watching the game with my parents," he said.

"It was an extraordinary feeling for us to beat Ghana... Now I am here and I hope I can have the same feeling as I did back then." - AFP

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