World News

Africa Cup of Nations 2021 roundup - January 9

By Sean Walsh
Cameroon kicked off the tournament on home soil
Cameroon kicked off the tournament on home soil / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/GettyImages

Everyone's favourite mid-season tournament is back - AFCON 2021 (in 2022) is underway!

While Covid-19 threatens to whittle squads down to the bare bones and force outfielders to play in goal (yes please), the tournament kicked off in Cameroon on Sunday, with the hosts among the first teams to get their campaigns off and running.

So while Liverpool are pencilling in some draws and losses for their usual AFCON-induced malaise, let's see what happened on the opening day of action...

Group A

Cameroon 2-1 Burkina Faso

Cameroon opened AFCON with victory / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/GettyImages

Hosts Cameroon had to come from behind in order to kick their home tournament off with a win against Burkina Faso in Group A.

The visitors came into the game as huge underdogs - not least after six players and head coach Kamou Malo tested positive for Covid-19 in recent days - but took a shock first-half lead through Gustavo Sangare.

Bertrand Traore picked out the midfielder to finish at the far post to put Burkina Faso ahead at the newly-built Olembe Stadium, but Cameroon managed to turn the game on its head with two penalties before the interval.

Aston Villa man Traore was judged by VAR to have impeded Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, and Vincent Aboubakar made no mistake from the spot to level proceedings.

The Al-Nassr striker doubled his tally from 12 yards in first-half stoppage time with Issoufou Dayo bringing down Nouhou Tolo, and the Indomitable Lions survived a second-half onslaught to notch up the first three points of AFCON 2021.

Ethiopia 0-1 Cape Verde

Elsewhere in Group A, Cape Verde managed to keep 10-man Ethiopia at arm's length and chalk up their maiden win of the tournament.

With only seven minutes on the clock, Yared Bayeh cynically brought down Julio Tavares on the edge of his own area, and received a yellow from referee Helder Martins Rodrigues de Carvalho.

But after a VAR check that lasted nearly five minutes, Bayeh's booking was upgraded to a red card and he was dismissed.

From there on, it was always going to be an uphill battle for the Walia Ibex, and they nearly made it into half-time on level terms with the Blue Sharks.


In stoppage time, Garry Rodrigues managed to pluck a looping ball out of the air and back across goal in one motion for Tavares to head home the game's only goal.