Cameroon, Burundi set for high-stakes AFCON qualifier

football11 September 2023 08:01| © Backpage TXT
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Rigobert Song © Getty Images

Cameroon and Burundi will meet for a high-stakes Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the Roumde Adjia Stadium in Garoua on Tuesday night.

Kick-off is at 9pm CAT (SA, GMT+2).

This Group C clash will round out the qualification tournament for the AFCON and reveal the identity of the last two nations in the 24-team field.

Heading into the match, Namibia stand atop the log with five points from four matches, while Cameroon and Burundi have four points each from three matches.

The Brave Warriors’ campaign is complete and they are at the mercy of this result to decide if they will qualify for a second AFCON in the space of three editions (having last appeared at the 2019 tournament in Egypt).

If either Cameroon (who last failed to appear at the AFCON in 2013) or Burundi (who made their lone AFCON appearance in 2019) claim victory, they will join Namibia in qualification.

However, a draw would result in a three-way tie in which all teams would have five points from games against each other, the same goal difference, and therefore goals scored or away goals scored would be the likely deciding factors.

The do-or-die nature of the match has even seen Indomitable Lions coach Rigobert Song bury the hatchet with key figure Andre Onana.

The Manchester United goalkeeper retired from international football after a row with Song at the 2022 World Cup, but will be back to man the posts come Tuesday evening.

“It all depended on him. He knew what he had to do. If he’s on the list, it’s because he did the right thing,” Song told reporters.

“He’s one of the best goalkeepers, the door was always open. There was never a problem with Andre. Today, we are satisfied that he is reunited with the group.”

In head-to-head stats, Cameroon and Burundi have met in two previous matches: a 1976 Central African Games clash which ended 5-0 in favour of the Indomitable Lions, and their game from earlier in this qualification tournament which produced a 1-0 away win for Cameroon back in June 2022 – courtesy of a goal from Karl Toko Ekambi.