Indomitable Lions look to roar in AFCON 2021 opener

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Cameroon, the host nation of the Total Energies Africa Cup of Nations 2021, will look for a winning start to the tournament when they face Group A rivals Burkina Faso at the Olembe Stadium on Sunday 9 January 2022.

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Kick-off is at 6pm CAT.

Cameroon are one of the traditional powerhouses of the Nations Cup, having won five titles (only Egypt, seven titles, are more successful in the tournament’s history). The Indomitable Lions were kings of Africa as recently as 2017 and are under pressure to make it six – though they will need to build momentum right from the start.

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The hosts will look to their experienced players to carry the burden of expectation, with the likes of Vincent Aboubakar, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Karl Toko Ekambi and Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui all seasoned at international level.

“We will have to put a tactical strategy with the creativity of our players to make the difference. Nowadays there are no easy matches. A lot of difficulties are expected but we are prepared and ready to go into battle,” said Cameroon coach Toni Conceicao.

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Burkina Faso, meanwhile, are returning to the AFCON after missing out on the 2019 edition in Egypt. They finished an impressive third in 2017 and were runners-up in 2013 – their two best showings in the history of the tournament.

The Stallions also boast some experienced campaigners – headlined by Aston Villa striker Bertrand Traore, as well as defenders Steeve Yago and Issoufou Dayo – and they will revel in being the underdogs in this opening game.

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Coach Kamou Malo says he would prefer “a team that goes into the competition with a lot of fears”, adding: “If at the beginning of a competition you get a good result it’s always flattering but it’s not always indicative.”

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In head-to-head stats, Cameroon and Burkina Faso have met in nine matches across all competitions since 1998, with the Indomitable Lions claiming four wins compared to one for the Stallions, while four games have been drawn.

The teams last met in an African Nations Championship (CHAN) group stage match in Yaounde in January 2021, with the clash ending all square at 0-0.

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