Indomitable Lions fans hold their breath hours before the draw

Cameroon fans before the 2021 Chan semifinal football match between Morocco and Cameroon at Limbe Stadium in Cameroon on 3 February 2021 ©Alain Guy SuffoBackpagePix (2)

The time for calculations and predictions on the probable opponents of the national team has begun in Cameroon. Teams like Egypt and Ghana are feared for the group stage.

Who will be the future opponents of the Indomitable Lions in the group stage of the next TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations, Cameroon 2021? A few hours before the draw scheduled for 17 August 2021, the question raises predictions.

Some people believe that the success of the Indomitable Lions will go through a "good draw" next Tuesday. "In view of the last performances of our team in the AFCON qualifiers, namely a defeat and a draw against Cape Verde, I keep my fingers crossed that we do not meet such teams, which we often refer to second-zone teams”, apprehends Abdoul Nasser Toupendi, supporter of the Indomitable Lions.

Cameroon celebrate after Stephane Bahoken of Cameroon scores during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Finals game between Cameroon and Guinea-Bissau at Ismailia Stadium in Ismailia, Egypt on 25 June 2019 © Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

The fear of the so-called second-zone teams does not, however, inhabit all the fans of the Cameroonian team. Billy Houto, sports intermediary, is among those who wish that captain Choupo Moting and his teammates do not meet the regular teams of the AFCON, especially those who have a glorious past in this prestigious competition. “The opponents to avoid in my opinion are: Egypt and Ghana in pot 2. They often caused us a lot of problems during the AFCON finals. In pot 3, we have to avoid the Gabonese neighbor with whom we have a political history. This Gabon is also made up of a fantastic attack with Pierre Aubameyang and Denis Bouanga. In the same pot, there is Guinea Bissau which has always been difficult to beat. We remember one of the recent confrontations in 2017 with the famous Piqueti Djassi Brito Silva who created doubts in the minds through his masterful goal. In pot 4, we have to fear the Comoros who present themselves as the Madagascar of the last AFCON, not much into individual style, but a collective team resistant to tough opponents,” he says.

Ready to climb the steps of the sumptuous Yaounde Conference Centre and experience the raffle ceremony live, columnist Lawrence Nkede is already feeling relieved. Relieved that Cameroon is safe from Senegal, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Nigeria. “They are among the 'natural' favorites. To them, I also add Côte d’Ivoire and Egypt. The Indomitable Lions that I classify among the outsiders will have to be wary of them in the rest of the competition,” he warns.

His colleague Leocadia Bongben, local correspondent for British radio BBC, thinks all the teams are to be feared because they won their qualification ticket with a hard fight.

Cameroon fans during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Finals Cameroon and Ghana at Ismailia Stadium, Ismailia, Egypt on 29 June 2019 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Billy Houto is less balancing and wants to see Cameroon in the same group with countries like Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Sierra Leone, Mauritania, Malawi, Sudan and Ethiopia, that are "manageable" opponents.

Even if he qualifies his point by acknowledging that having tough opponents in the first round can also be an advantage for the rest of the competition. “Let's take the example of Portugal who finished third in their group at Euro 2016 but were able to win the tournament at the end. Because their great matches in the first round allowed them to see their weakness and to adjust,” he recalls. What reassure the suspicious fans of the Indomitable Lions.