Cameroon beats Ivory Coast 4-1 in qualifying
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Cameroon threw off its dreadful World Cup performance to beat star-studded Ivory Coast 4-1 in African Cup of Nations qualifying on Wednesday.
Forwards Clinton N’Jie and Vincent Aboubakar scored a double each as Cameroon moved on from the retirement of striker Samuel Eto’o to overpower the Ivorians and take a second win to go top of Group D.
Cameroon lost all three games at the World Cup in Brazil and was Africa’s worst team, but has rebounded with successive victories over Congo and Yaya Toure’s Ivory Coast in the continental championship’s final qualifying stage.
Republic of Congo followed up its surprise victory over defending champion Nigeria on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Sudan to take charge of Group A. South Africa and Nigeria drew 0-0 in Cape Town.
Christian Atsu’s 85th-minute goal lifted Ghana to a late 3-2 win in Togo, but Uganda was still the surprise leader on goal difference in Group E after it beat Guinea 2-0 at home. Cape Verde put itself in a good position to reach the African Cup next year in Morocco after a second straight win, this time over 2012 Cup of Nations winner Zambia.
Egypt, the record seven-time African champion, lost 1-0 at home to North African rival Tunisia after an early goal by Fakhreddine Ben Youssef in Cairo. While Tunisia and Senegal have two wins from two, Egypt is at the bottom of Group G.
After two out of six games in the final group stage, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Zambia and Guinea are also out of the qualifying places alongside Egypt and have work to do.
“We need to win the remaining four games to go through and that’s what we shall work towards achieving,” Ivory Coast captain Toure said.
The top two teams from each of the seven groups will qualify for the finals alongside one best third-placed team.
N’Jie enhanced his reputation as Cameroon’s new star in place of Eto’o with the opening goal off a rapid counterattack at Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaounde. He also had a goal disallowed soon after. Toure equalized by sliding in to bury a loose ball in the 25th minute.
But that spurred the Cameroonians on, and Aboubakar put them ahead again before halftime before the two strikers both scored high quality second goals. Aboubakar sent a first-time shot into the top corner in the 54th, and N’Jie controlled a pass with his chest and volleyed home in the 76th.
Congo is second to Cameroon in Group D after winning 2-0 against Sierra Leone in a game that was relocated from Sierra Leone to Congo because of the Ebola outbreak.
In Group A, Nigeria appeared weary as it labored to 0-0 in South Africa, leaving the Nigerians still without a win in the qualifiers and third behind Republic of Congo and South Africa. Republic of Congo only made it through to the final round of qualifiers after Rwanda was disqualified but tops the group ahead of two former African champions.
In a full-blooded battle in Lome, Togo appeared to have claimed a point with Emmanuel Adebayor’s late header to make it 2-2 against Ghana. But Atsu pounced for the winner five minutes from time to lift Ghana up to second behind the Ugandans.
Senegal and Tunisia are in pole position to qualify from Group G after both won on Wednesday, with Senegal’s Sadio Mane scoring his second goal in two games in a 2-0 win in Botswana. Egypt, the African Cup’s most successful team, is in danger of completely missing out on the tournament for the third time in a row.
Associated Press writers Divine Ntaryike in Yaounde, Cameroon, and Blame Ekoue in Lome, Togo, contributed to this report.