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Host Cameroon sealed their place in the quarterfinals of the African Nations Championship despite playing a goalless draw with Burkina Faso at the Omnisport Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaoundé on Sunday night.
The Indomitable Lions came into the game knowing that a draw would put them on the next stage. The Burkinabe needed a victory in Group A to seal a spot in the round of 16 of the competition.
It was the Stallions who put their Central African opponents under early pressure in front of their home fans, hoping to score an early goal and destabilize them.
Burkina Faso had great scoring opportunities, but players like Mohamed Outtara and Sansan Hassamy Dah were unable to capitalize on their opportunities. Cameroon goalkeeper Haschou Kerrido also played a great role in helping his team stop opponents.
The big opportunity for the home team came in the 68th minute: Joel Ngon managed to overtake the Stallions defenders, but goalkeeper Aboubabcar Sawadogo made an excellent save to reject him.
In another Group A match played at the Reunification Stadium in Douala, Mali defeated Zimbabwe by a solo goal to secure their qualification for the round of 16.
The charges led by Zdravko Logarusic were desperate for a victory to advance. It’s why they started the game hoping to score first and put pressure on the Eagles.
Qadri Amin could have done that in the third minute when he was on goal, but he somehow missed the opportunity. A minute later, he was replaced by Ian Nekati.
It was a warning to Malians who picked up their pace and increased their concentration levels to avoid discomfort. His tactical change paid off in the 12th minute when Demba Diallo found the back of the net.
The Malians would have doubled the lead in injury time, but Bassekou Diabate hit the wood after beating the Warriors custodian.
As a result, Mali finished at the top of the group with seven points, two more than the hosts, Cameroon.
The Eagles will play the runner-up from Group B, while Cameroon will play the winners for a spot in the bottom four.