Cameroon vs Guinea | Saturday 24 January | Malabo | 21:00
In the second Group D clash on Saturday, its the hosts’ neighbours, Cameroon, that take on Guinea from even further West. Not including friendlies, these teams have only met once in AFCON competition, back in 1998, and Guinea will draw on that spirited 2-2 stalemate ahead of this late kick off.
To Win (90mins)
Cameroon made it through to the quarter-finals back in 2010 but have not been involved in AFCON competition since being knocked out by Egypt in injury time. They are four-time African champions and are not called the Indomitable Lions for nothing. Coach Volker Finke boasts an unbeaten record since exiting World Cup 2014 in a highly disappointing fashion. After not registering a single win on the world stage, it seems they have turned things around, picking up important away draws and being their dominant selves at home in qualification. Needless to say they cruised through and with a new look side that boasts just eight players that took part in the World Cup, they’re very much in need of proving a point. Minus their talisman, Samuel Eto’o, who recently retired from international football, Cameroon have rebuilt. They came from behind to snatch a draw against Mali and will be confident heading into this fixture.
Guinea are one of the lesser known entities, qualifying second behind Ghana in their group. Despite their wins against weaker sides like Uganda and Togo, an impressive home draw against the Black Stars was the highlight on their road to AFCON 2015. A worrying 5-2 loss in a warm-up friendly against Senegal would have had coach Michel Dussuyer hoping his preparations had been enough for them to compete. To make the task even more daunting, they’ve yet to beat Cameroon in recent times, with their recent friendlies resulting in two wins and a draw for the Lions. Guinea did, however, go into the halftime break against Ivory Coast 1-0 up. They really should have capitalised on the sending off of Ivorian Gervinho, but conceded in the final twenty minutes to walk away with an unexpected point.
VERDICT: Cameroon 17/20
The Lions of West Africa have every reason to walk into this one as favourites. AFCON usually deals up a few upsets, especially in the group stages, but I can’t see this match being one of the candidates. Strong recent form, solid qualification and stiffer opposition in Group D like Mali and Ivory Coast, mean Cameroon will be fully focused on ensuring the win in this one. Over and above the win, look to the favourites to keep a clean sheet. They will be using this as good defensive practice for much sterner opposition to come.