Cameroon and Ghana played out a goalless draw in their Group F match at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) on Saturday night. The stalemate in the clash between two countries on the Gulf of Guinea leaves both in the top two qualification places of the group. Both will progress if neither loses to Benin and Guinea-Bissau in their final match.
Kwesi Appiah made three changes to the Black Stars side which drew 2-2 with Benin in the opening game. At centre back, John Boye was suspended after his red card and was replaced by Jonathan Mensah as Kasim Adams’ partner.
At left back, Lumor Agbenyenu was left out, meaning a recall for Abdul Rahman Baba for his first competitive minutes for Ghana since the 2017 Afcon. In front of Baba, Kwadwo Asamoah was back in the side with Thomas Agyepong missing after picking up an injury after 35 minutes against Benin.
Cameroon coach, Clarence Seedorf made four changes to the side which beat Guinea-Bissau 2-0. Yaya Banana was replaced by Gaeton Bong in defence, whilst right-back Joyskim Dawa’s place went to the more adventurous Collins Fai.
Further forward, captain Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting was only fit enough for a place on the bench so Clinton N’Jie took his place, whilst number ten Arnaud Djoum was left out for tactical reasons with an extra defender in Jean-Armel Kana-Biyik selected instead for what was expected to be a tough game.
Stephane Bahoken, scorer of the second goal against Guinea-Bissau, again had to make do with a place on the bench.
SEEDORF SITS OFF
From the start of the game, Cameroon’s plan was clear. Having made several tactical changes to his lineup, his side set up in a 3-4-3 formation in possession, which quickly became a 5-4-1 when defending.
Bong was selected on the left of a back three, and paid close attention to Andre Ayew in the early stages, even tracking the Ghana captain when he dropped into deep midfield areas.
Cameroon did not look to press particularly aggressively when Richard Ofori had the ball. The Ghana central defenders, Mensah and Adams would split wide to receive, with Mubarak Wakaso dropping in-between to get on the ball. This left Thomas Partey as the lone player covering the centre, making anything but building wide a major challenge.
Seedorf’s men dropped into their own half, looking to close off passing angles and draw Ghana out. Their plan out of possession was seemingly to wait for a clear pressing trigger, such as a misplaced pass or heavy touch, then winning the ball and finding their two inside forwards on transition.
Ghana were not the only side looking to play short from their goalkeeper. With three central defenders, Cameroon were able to comfortably pass the ball across the back especially with Andre Onana proficient with his feet thanks to his Barcelona and Ajax Amsterdam upbringing.
It didn’t take long for the Ayew brothers to stop closing down and instead drop off. This led to long spells of possession with very little penetration. With Ghana having Asamoah tuck inside to supplement midfield when the ball was on the far side, and screening passes into Cameroon star man, Christian Bassogog when the ball was on his side, they were rarely trouble despite the Indomitable Lions having 58.7% of the ball in the first half.