Burkina Faso will look to get the better of a depleted Cameroon side when they take them on in their first 2017 Africa Cup of Nations match in a Group A encounter at the Stade de l’Amitié in Libreville on Saturday.
The match is scheduled for 21h00 (CAT).
The Indomitable Lions boast several unknown quantities in their ranks, with Guy N’dy Assembé, André Onana, Joël Matip, Allan Nyom, Maxime Poundjé, Ibrahim Amadou, André-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Eric Maxime Choupo-Moting having all made themselves unavailable for selection ahead of the tournament in Gabon.
But, despite being without several of their key players – especially in defence – the Indomitable Lions still have a strong squad with Vincent Aboubakar to lead the line for the four time champions.
Head coach Hugo Broos had tried his best to pursued the likes of Liverpool’s Matip to play in Gabon, but having failed in his attempts the former Belgium international had to settle for second choice options in several key positions. Nicolas Nkoulou’s presence in defence, though, will be a major boost.
Broos was in an upbeat mood ahead of this weekend’s clash despite all that has happened, with the Cameroon mentor happy with the progress made by his team in the build-up to the competition.
“A tournament like the Africa Cup of Nations is not played with 11 players,” said Broos. “It’s impossible! All players must be used. This is why we organise friendly matches to try some things.
“This lets you know which players are already on top and those who are not yet quite ready to start the tournament.
“My team is ready, we have plenty of options for Saturday, we have made great progress – there is much more rhythm and depth in our game. What we will try do is win our first game because that is very important.”
The Burkinabe boast a considerable threat with the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations runners-up hopeful that familiar names will help them escape a competitive Group A.
Stalwarts Jonathan Pitroïpa, Aristide Bancé and Charles Kaboré bring valuable know-how to a team that has been there and done it all before – against all odds.
Manager Paulo Duarte is in his second stint in charge of the Stallions, with the Portuguese watching on nervously from the bench as Banou Diawara’s goal nine minutes into stoppage time sealed their fifth successive appearance at Africa’s showpiece.
Key Battle (Jonathan Pitroïpa vs Benjamin Moukandjo)
A lot will be expected from Benjamin Moukandjo in what is likely to be a three-prong attack for the Indomitable Lions. The most experienced attacker in the side, Lorient-based Moukandjo has been in good form for his French club and will be called upon to drive the Central African club forward.
Similarly, 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Player of the Tournament – Pitroïpa – will be eager to rekindle the form he showed in South Africa four years ago and if he were to be back to his brilliant best the Stallions will look a lot more dangerous.
Head-to-head as per FIFA.com:
In four previous matches between the two sides, Cameroon flaunt an unbeaten record with three wins and one match ending all square. The Indomitable Lions won the previous meeting between the two sides 3-2, in Colombes two years ago.
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