Indomitable Lions ready to rumble in cauldron atmosphere of Accra

2008-02-06 00:00

AFTER surviving a scare in the quarter-finals against Tunisia, four-time champions Cameroon now become the next side to go toe to toe with hosts Ghana, in the pressure cauldron of the Ohene Djan Stadium in tomorrow’s semi-final in Accra.

Cameroon thought they had their quarter-final against Tunisia wrapped up by taking an early 2-0 lead at Tamale Sports Stadium on Monday night, before the north Africans fought back to 2-2 and appeared to have the momentum. Man of the match Stephane Mbia scored in the first minute of injury time for a 3-2 victory to the Indomitable Lions.

Ghanaian fans have been criticised for throwing plastic bottles at the team’s bench in the Black Stars’ thrilling 2-1 quarter-final victory over Nigeria on Sunday. But overall, the atmosphere in Ohene Djan Stadium for the home team’s games has been a major factor in the team’s progression to the semis.

Against Nigeria, when Michael Essien equalised with the last touch of the first half, the home fans celebrated for the entire 15-minute break, a rare sight in football.

Cameroon defender Joel Epalle said they are expecting a pressure atmosphere in tomorrow’s meeting.

“We know it will be a tough game and we are prepared for that. We are a big team with a big history and we hope to give everything for this game to go through to the final.”

Asked if a fifth Nations Cup title is on the cards for Cameroon, the defender replied: “It’s not our focus. Our ambition for the competition is to go on as long as possible.”

Epalle, who came on as a second-half substitute to shore up a Cameroon defence that was struggling to contain Tunisia, said: “We knew that Tunisia are a good team and that they play good football.

“We thought that we could keep a 2-0 lead, but after it became 2-1 we started to panic a little. But with our experience in a competition like this we knew that we would qualify.”

Cameroon coach Otto Pfister remained pragmatic despite what appeared to be an emotional victory. “It’s not emotion. I look at football as a game — if I win I am happy, if I lose I congratulate the opponent,” the coach said.

Legendary Tunisia defender Rahdi Jaidi retired from international football after the quarter-final game.

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