Fabrice Ondoa, the Cameroon national team goalkeeper was the hero of the side as the Indomitable Lions beat Senegal 5-4 on post match penalties to progress to the semi-finals of the 2017 African Cup of Nations.
The match was a repeat of the 2002 final where the Cameroonians downed the Lions of Teranga on penalties to win the title.
Liverpool forward Sadio Mane, the star of the star-studded Senegalese side saw his penalty kick saved by Ondoa while Vincent Aboubakar scored for the Cameroonians as they progressed to the last four.
Mane was inconsolable after the final whistle and it took the effort of coach Alliou Cisse to get him off the pitch. Having missed the decisive kick in the 2002 final, Cisse knew one or two things of how it feels to miss a crucial kick in the shoot-out.
The game was locked at a goalless stalemate after 90 minutes of regular time plus the additional 30 and had to be decided on the penalty lottery.
Kalidou Koulibaly, Kara Mbodji, Mousa Sow and Henri Saivet had scored Senegal’s first four kicks. Benjamin Moukandjo, Ambroise Oyongo, Adolphe Teikou and Zoua Daogari responded for the Indomitable Lions.
At 4-4, Mane stepped up to keep his side in the lead but he missed, Ondoa’s strong left arm palming the ball away. Aboubacar had the task to win it for Cameroon and he made no mistake, sending the Senegalese keeper the wrong way.
Coach Cisse had brought back into the starting team his usual starters after resting them for the final group match having already booked top spot in the group.
They started the match brighter with Mane and youngster Balde Keita employed in either wings to use their pace and create chances from width. They came close through Cheikhou Koyate whose header after the keeper failed to pick out a Keita cross went over.
The lanky Mame Biram Diouf also came close with a header from a Mane cross, but Ondoa proved equal to the task.
Cameroon’s best chance
In the second half, Cameroon’s best chance fell on Moukandjo whose first touch pulled him clear inside the box, but his effort was easily palmed away by the Senegalese keeper.
In the first quarter final earlier played in Libreville, Burkina Faso needed two late goals to book a quarter final slot with a 2-0 win over 2004 champions Tunisia.
Fan favorite Aristide Bance stepped off the bench to score barely four minutes on the pitch in the 80th minute.
Having arrived onto the pitch greeted by screams from the fans, the fancy hair-styled forward increased the decibels in the stadium after slamming a low shot home after a free-kick was pushed into his path from the edge of the box by Bertrand Traore.
From a counter attack, Prejuce Nakoulma scored the second with six minutes remaining to seal the result for the Burkinabes.
Coming into the match, save in their 2004 success, Tunisia were yet to ever go past the quarters in the five other attempts. They were headed for an overturn of the sorry statistic up to the 80th minute when Bance broke their hearts.
“We did not show our qualities. We did not possess the rage to win. We were a little tired, the physical freshness was not perfect, we did not play quickly enough when attacking,” Henryk Kasperczak, the Tunisia coach said after the match.