Lions ready for “Les Mourabitones”, as the journey to Gabon starts in earnest

Team Cameroon

Team Cameroon

The Lions are arrived Cameroon yesterday ahead of their first leg qualifiers for the 2017 African Cup of Nation in Gabon. The Lions will welcome the “Mourabitones” of Mauritania on Sunday June 14, 2015 at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaoundé.

The lions prepared for the game with a win and a draw against Burkina Faso and the DR Congo in France and Belgium respectively. Cameroon had to come from behind thanks to two late goals by Njie Clinton in the 85th and 90th minute to beat Burkina Faso 3-2 in France before once more coming from behind this time through the effort of Henri Bedimo to draw parity in a 1-1 tie with the DRC on Tuesday, June 9 in Belgium.

It was just the perfect start for the new “Finke –era” and restored some lost hope in the fans of the Lions after a disappointing nations cup in Equatorial Guinea. Cameroon’s two victories in the Far East against Malaysia and Indonesia were interpreted by most as window dressing as these teams were considered below par by the huge football crazy public back home. The Lions have also shown some fighting spirit since the Equato-Guinean campaign, coming from behind in all four matches to win or draw as was the case against the DR Congo.

Cameroon’s other group opponents the Gambia and South Africa will lock horns in Johannesburg on Saturday.

This weekend will also be a very busy one across the African continent with matches spread out from Friday to Sunday. Guinea and Swaziland set the ball rolling on Friday in Morocco due to the Ebola ban in Guinea. Morocco meanwhile welcomes Libya in Rabat in an-all Maghrebian derby and Tunisia entertains minors Djibouti in Tunis.

On Saturday neigbours Chad jet in to Nigeria to challenge the Flying Eagles in a match the Nigerian coach Stephen Keshi say should not be taken lightly. For the other games, Malawi host Zimbabwe in a southern African derby, Guinea Bissau cross over the continent to Zambia to face the Chipolopolo. In Luanda, host nation Angola awaits the Central African Republic, Uganda takes on Botswana in Kampala, Burkina Faso and the Comoros meet in Ouagadougou, Mali will confront South Sudan in Bamako and Algeria on her part will welcome the Seychelles.

Sunday will see Ghana take on the Mauritius Island in a group H clash and Rwanda travels to Mozambique in the same group. Group B favourite DR Gongo will take on Madagascar at the Tata Raphael Stadium in Kinshasa and in the Kegue stadium in Lome, host nation Togo welcomes Liberia. Still on Sunday, Congo seeks to start on a bright note against their east African opponent, Kenya. Last year nations cup host Equatorial Guinea will hope to make it to neigbouring Gabon when they start their campaign against Benin in group C. Lesotho faces an uphill task to Ethiopia in the horn of Africa, Niger on her part welcomes Namibia in Niamey, the Pharaohs of Egypt will start their campaign against Tanzania, still in search of their first participation at the continental show piece event. Group I will see Sudan and Sierra Leon clash in Khartoum while Gabon, the 2017 host will warm up for the tournament with a game against the Cote D’Ivoire in Libreville.  Only one of the four teams will qualify from this poll.

A total of 51 teams are competing for 15 places, with host nations Gabon included into the qualifiers but whose matches will be considered as friendlies only. The 52 teams have been divided into 13 groups with the group leaders to qualify for the finals automatically and the two best runners up to join the train to Gabon. Each team will play a total of three home and three away games to determine the group winners. The qualifiers will run over six playing days to span from June 12, 2015 to September 4, 2016.

By Abongwa Fozo

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