Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions have drawn the Elephants of Ivory Coast and the Leopards of the Democratic Republic of Congo in a tough looking Group D of qualifiers to the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in 2015.
Cameroonians have bittersweet memories of the last time they were with Ivory Coast in the same qualifying group for a tournament (qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup in Germany). The Indomitable Lions beat the Elephants at home in Yaounde (2-0) and away in Abidjan (2-3) but still failed to qualify for the World Cup after they drew 1-1 with the Pharaohs of Egypt in Yaounde on 8 October 2005 in the final group game.
Both teams met in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations in 2006. The game finished 1-1 after 120 minutes of regular and extra-time. It then went on to one of the longest penalty shoot-outs in the history of the competition, with eleven players from each side scoring their kick. When the shoot-out restarted, Ivory Coast’s talisman, Didier Drogba scored while Cameroon’s star, Samuel Eto’o, missed.
The Ivorians have since become one of Africa’s best teams (although they have unfortunately won no trophy) while Cameroon’s fortunes have gone downhill, except for their surprising run to the final of the Africa Cup in 2008 which the lost 0-1 to Egypt.
Four times winners of the Africa Cup of Nations, Cameroon failed to qualify to the continental event in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea in 2012 and in South Africa in 2013. To avoid missing out on the competition for the third time in a row, the Lions would certainly want to obtain good results against the Elephants but also defeat the Leopards of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Congo were in Cameroon’s qualifying group for this year’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The Lions defeated the Congolese 1-0 in Yaounde and drew 0-0 in Congo but struggled in both instances. The final member of Group D will come from Swaziland/Sierra Leone/Gambia/Seychelles which are still to play preliminary qualifying rounds.
Cameroon starts the qualification campaign in September. CAF is expected to know the 15 teams to join hosts Morocco by mid-November 2014. There are seven (7) qualifying groups. The first and the second-placed teams in all seven groups, and the best overall third-placed team will qualify for the AFCON 2015 in Morocco.
Here are the Groups:
Group A: Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, and one from: Namibia/Congo/Libya/Rwanda
Group B: Mali, Algeria, Ethiopia, and one from: Sao Tome, Benin, Malawi and Chad
Group C: Burkina Faso, Angola, Gabon, and one from: Liberia/Lesotho/Kenya/Comoros
Group D: Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, and one from: Swaziland/Sierra Leone/the Gambia/Seychelles
Group E: Ghana, Togo, Guinea (Conakry), and one from: Madagascar/Uganda/Mauritania/Equatorial Guinea
Group F: Zambia, Cape Verde, Niger, and one from: Tanzania/Zimbabwe/Mozambique/South Sudan
Group G: Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, and one from: Burundi/Botswana/CAR/Guinea Bissau