Cameroon and Guinea will get their AFCON Group C campaign this Monday January 15, 2024 and both teams will be looking to make a positive start to the competition when they face each other.
Cameroon have gone under the radar in the buildup to this showpiece event, with most onlookers expecting the likes of Morocco, Egypt, Senegal and the hosts Ivory Coast to feature in the latter stages of the tournament.
The indomitable lions have been ranked as the eighth-favourite country to win the competition though, as they will not be burdened as much by the weight of expectancy, especially after a very average warm-up match, which saw them draw 1-1 to Zambia last week.
Despite that, Cameroon cannot written off in any competition, especially AFCON, as they are still one of only three countries to ever successfully defend the continental crown.
In addition, the Indomitable Lions – who won their fifth AFCON title in Gabon in 2017 when they were unfancied as well are the second-most successful nation in the history of this competition behind The Pharaohs (seven titles).
Cameroon also have a habit of performing at their best in West Africa, as they are the only side to have won three AFCON titles in the West of the continent. Their first victory came in Cote D’Ivoire in 1984 before their back-to-back triumphs in 2000 and 2002 in Nigeria and Mali, respectively.
While it may be just the opening match of the competition, the importance of getting a result here cannot be overstated, as it could be a deciding match in the race for the top two spots if Senegal lives up to expectations and win the group.
Guinea, though, are definitely a team to keep an eye on in this competition and they raised a fair few eyebrows in the lead-up to the competition when they beat Nigeria in their sole warm-up match last week.
The National Elephants have improved immensely over the last five to seven years and enter the tournament ranked 15th among African nations, according to the latest FIFA World Rankings.
Guinea reached the knockout stages of the last competition and have solid momentum heading into this edition, having only lost one of their last six matches while winning four and drawing one of the other five.
Despite Cameroon’s record in this competition, Kaba Diawara’s side have been the more successful in the head-to-head battle in recent times, winning the last two encounters in 2021 and 2017.
Cameroon will have to make do without the services of the influential Brentford attacking midfielder Bryan Mbeumo, who underwent surgery on his ankle last month, which ruled him out of this tournament.
The Indomitable Lions also face uncertainty around their goalkeeper situation since Andre Onana will only arrive in Cote D’Ivoire less than 24 hours before kickoff, having been granted permission to play for Manchester United against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
Cameroon will also miss the services of Vincent Aboubakar for the first match who sustained an injury in training over the weekend.
Guinea have one major problem of their own, and it revolves around the fitness of their star striker Serhou Guirassy, who took a knock to his thigh, which saw him withdrawn early in the match against Nigeria last week.
Guirassy has been in superb form for his club Stuttgart this season and has already scored 17 goals in just 14 matches in the Bundesliga this season. Liverpool’s Naby Keita is expected to wear the captain’s armband for the National Elephants.
Cameroon possible starting XI
Ondoa; Castelletto, Wooh, Moukoudi, Tolo; Ntcham, Kemen, Anguissa; Ngamaleu, Ekambi, Magri
Guinea possible starting XI
Kone; Conte, Jeanvier, Diakhaby, Sylla; Camara, Konate, Keita; Guilavogui, Kamano, Guirassy
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