Kicking off the 33rd Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), tournament hosts Cameroon came from behind to beat Burkina Faso 2-1 and end a run of three competitive H2H draws.
Cameroon got off to a magnificent start but were unable to translate that into a lead, as Karl Toko Ekambi couldn’t find the target from a tight angle after Hervé Koffi came flying out of his box. Against the run of play, Burkina Faso went ahead in the 24th minute. Just seconds after seeing his header cleared off the line, Bertrand Traoré crossed towards the back post where Gustavo Sangaré was on hand to finish clinically.
On the day they hosted AFCON for the first time in 50 years, Cameroon recovered and were awarded a penalty when Traoré fouled André-Frank Zambo Anguissa while trying to reach a bouncing ball in the box. Cameroon captain Vincent Aboubakar stepped up to and showed incredible composure to send Koffi the wrong way and slide the ball home in the 40th minute. ‘Les Lions Indomptables’ had another penalty before HT after Issoufou Dayo cleared out Nouhou Tolo. Aboubakar deceived Koffi again, and having previously scored one goal in eight AFCON matches, the Al-Nassr frontman had two in eight minutes.
‘Les Étalons’ weren’t about to back down and Traoré’s swerving free kick tested André Onana within a minute of the restart, before another dead ball resulted in Adama Guira forcing a strong stop. Aboubakar thought he had secured his hat-trick just before the hour mark, as Koffi’s save from Nicolas Moumi Ngamaleu’s shot bounced off him and into the net, but it was ruled out for offside after a lengthy VAR check. Anguissa then saw a deflected strike from the edge of the box flash agonisingly wide.
A late third eluded Aboubakar, but five-time winners Cameroon did enough to start AFCON with a fifth consecutive competitive victory ahead of their meeting with Ethiopia. Meanwhile, Burkina Faso should not panic as they aim to emulate their third-place finish in 2017, having lost for just the second time in 19 competitive matches, with Cape Verde up next.