West Ham’s Demba Ba came on as a late substitute for Senegal against Cameroon but his short-stay on the pitch will be remembered for years because of the goal he scored in injury-time when it seemed the game was heading to a scoreless draw.
Ba benefitted from Issa Diar’s hard work on the left side of the Teranga Lions’ attack and a moment of hesitation from, an otherwise uncompromising, Cameroon back-line of Benoit Amngwa, Nicolas Nkoulou, Stephane Mbia and Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
The consequences of that goal are dire for Cameroon and heavenly for Senegal.
The Cameroonians are now five points adrift of Senegal which tops group “E” of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. They (Lions of the Teranga) have nine points after three victories.
Only the first team in each of the 12 qualifying groups will make it to the tournament in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea next year.
They will be joined by the two overall best second-placed teams in the qualification campaign as well as the co-hosts.
Mathematically, Cameroon could still qualify and even top their group. For that to happen, though, they need Senegal to lose twice (or at least lose once and draw once) while Cameroon wins all her games. Will that happen?
At the pre-match press-conference in Dakar, Cameroon’s captain, Samuel Eto’o said even a defeat would not mean the end of the world. He might not be wrong but the reality is often different. He looked troubled after the Senegalese goal.
As thousands of Senegalese fans jubilated – it seemed they were clearly seeing their team in Equatorial Guinea and/or Gabon. Just a point from the game against Cameroon in Yaounde (or is it Garoua?) will see them through. And who knows, they might choose to acclamatise in Cameroon! (Well, we’re not there yet)!
Hundreds of Cameroonians were at the Leopold Sedar Senghor stadium. They were hit by the late goal but their joie de vivre was admirable as they kept on dancing and singing hours after the game.
It is rare to see supporters of Cameroon’s Lions in such a mood after a defeat. So thumbs up to the fans who were in Dakar on that Saturday evening.