Cameroon came from behind with two late goals to reach the last 16 of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, beating The Gambia in a thriller to knock their opponents out of the tournament.
The five-time champions secured second place in Group C on goals scored.
Rigobert Song’s side will next face Nigeria at Abidjan’s Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium on Saturday (20:00 GMT).
The Scorpions looked to have dashed Cameroon’s hopes with a 93rd-minute goal but it was ruled out for handball.
Guinea’s 2-0 defeat against group winners Senegal allowed Cameroon to move above them in the final table, although the Syli National advance as one of the four best third-placed teams.
Tom Saintfiet resigned as The Gambia coach after their exit without a point but the world’s 126th-ranked team – the lowest in the competition – were on course to extend his stay with a huge upset when Ebrima Colley curled them ahead for the first time, making it 2-1 from a tight angle with less than six minutes of normal time remaining.
Victory for Saintfiet’s spirited squad would have put them in contention to go through among the third-placed teams and knocked Cameroon out, only for James Gomez to turn the ball beyond his own goalkeeper and make it 2-2 two minutes later when the centre-back lunged in to attempt to intercept Enzo Tchato’s cross.
Having been on the brink of elimination, Cameroon climbed into second spot a minute into added time when Christopher Wooh rose to head a corner beyond Baboucarr Gaye’s dive.
The abundance of late twists continued when Muhammed Sanneh – one of five changes made by Saintfiet – turned in a cross for a goal that was disallowed for handball by a VAR check.
Onana dropped by Indomitable Lions
There had been hints of the drama to come during a promising start by the underdogs, who are 80 places below Cameroon in Fifa’s rankings and reached the quarter-finals on their debut in 2021.
Cameroon head coach Song dropped Andre Onana in the most high-profile of four alterations to his starting line-up, restoring the Manchester United goalkeeper’s cousin, Fabrice Ondoa, in his place.
Ondoa was soon called into action, beating Ali Sowe’s angled strike away at his near post as part of an end-to-end first half in which the West African nation had the better chances.
Only a timely block by Jacob Mendy prevented Cameroon forward Karl Toko Ekambi from firing in a close-range shot on the turn, and Ondoa plunged on the recalled Yankuba Minteh’s effort when he was left unmarked at the far post to plant a header towards goal from Musa Barrow’s corner.
A spell of persistent Gambia pressure ended with Ondoa appearing to plead with his teammates to raise their defensive game, but Cameroon only improved after the break.
After Indomitable Lions forward Georges-Kevin Nkoudou hammered a shot against the crossbar five minutes into the second period, Toko Ekambi headed Nkoudou’s searching delivery in six minutes later to break the deadlock.
The Gambia, however, soon levelled as Ablie Jallow arrived unmarked in the box to deftly volley in from Alieu Fadera’s cross.
Toko Ekambi rattled the crossbar with a fizzing effort before Colley’s strike sent shockwaves around the Stade de la Paix, starting the sequence of three goals in seven minutes to settle Cameroon’s destiny in an extraordinary finish.
- 21SannehBooked at 90mins
- 5ColleySubstituted forSannehat 69′minutes
- 3JallowBooked at 77minsSubstituted forColleyat 84′minutes
- 27BobbSubstituted forFaderaat 69′minutesBooked at 89mins
- 26SoweSubstituted forCeesayat 73′minutes
- 18YongwaSubstituted forKemenat 80′minutes
- 9MagriSubstituted forMoumbagnaat 72′minutes
- 11NkoudouSubstituted forMoukoudiat 90+7′minutes
- Bamlak Tessema Weyesa
Match ends, Gambia 2, Cameroon 3.
Second Half ends, Gambia 2, Cameroon 3.
Corner, Cameroon. Conceded by Alieu Fadera.
Foul by Faris Moumbagna (Cameroon).
Jacob Mendy (Gambia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Olivier Kemen (Cameroon) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Assan Ceesay (Gambia).
Substitution, Cameroon. Harold Moukoudi replaces Georges-Kévin Nkoudou.
Muhammed Sanneh (Gambia) is shown the yellow card for hand ball.
VAR Decision: No Goal Gambia 2-3 Cameroon.
GOAL OVERTURNED BY VAR: Muhammed Sanneh (Gambia) scores but the goal is ruled out after a VAR review.
Hand ball by Muhammed Sanneh (Gambia).
Corner, Gambia. Conceded by Karl Toko-Ekambi.
Goal! Gambia 2, Cameroon 3. Christopher Wooh (Cameroon) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Georges-Kévin Nkoudou with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Cameroon. Conceded by Jacob Mendy.
Attempt blocked. Christopher Wooh (Cameroon) header from the right side of the six yard box is blocked.
Alieu Fadera (Gambia) is shown the yellow card.
Nouhou Tolo (Cameroon) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Alieu Fadera (Gambia).
Own Goal by James Gomez, Gambia. Gambia 2, Cameroon 2.
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Publish date : 2024-01-23 20:28:42