By Angu Lesley
Football Writers, kick442.com-Cameroon
The sixth edition of the African Nations Championship [CHAN] will kick off in Cameroon from January 16th, 2021, kick442.com gives you an in-depth analysis of the four groups and the 16 teams that constitute them.
Group A is made up host Country Cameroon, 2014 semi-finalists Zimbabwe, 2016 finalist Mali and Burkina Faso.
How They Qualified:
Cameroon did not enter the qualifiers after they secured the hosting rights. The tournament was initially scheduled to take place in Ethiopia, but Ethiopia backed out due to lack of state support.
Cameroon qualified on April 13, 2019.
Zimbabwe qualified from the Southern Zone of the qualifiers.
They entered the qualifiers from the second round. They defeated Mauritius on a 1-7 aggregate score line. Winning the first leg 0-4 and the second leg 3-1.
In the third round they beat Lesotho on a 3-1 aggregate score. They won the first leg game 3-1 and played to a virgin tie in the second, to seal one of three spots allocated for teams in the Southern Zone.
Zimbabwe scored 10 goals and conceded two in four qualification games with Prince Dube finishing as their top scorer and the overall top scorer of the qualifiers alongside Uganda’s Patrick Kaddu with with four goals each.
The Warriors qualified on October 20, 2019.
Mali were one of two teams to qualify from the Western Zone A.
In the first round, they saw off Guinea-Bissau on a 7-0 aggregate score line, beating them 0-4 in the first leg and 3-0 in the return leg.
In they second round they drew 0-0 with Mauritania in the first leg before making sure in the return leg with a 2-0 win on home soil, to book their ticket for the tournament.
Mali’s top scorer in the qualifiers was Moussa Kone with three goals.
Mali scored nine goals in qualification and conceded none.
The Eagles made sure of a place in the tournament on October 20, 2019.
The Stallions of Burkina Faso qualified from the Western Zone B.
They entered the qualifiers in the second round. They edged the Black Stars of Ghana with 1-0 aggregate score line.
They beat Ghana in Kumasi 0-1 in the first leg on September 22, 2019 before holding on to a 0-0 draw in Ouagadougou on October 20th to book their place.
They scored one goal in two games in the qualifiers.
Stephane Pognongo’s 94th minute strike away to Ghana was their lone goal.
Cameroon will be making their fourth appearance in the tournament, after previously taking part in 2011, 2016 and 2018.
The Indomitable Lions have never gone past the quarterfinals. They did so in 2011 and 2016.
Mali will also be playing the CHAN for the fourth time after taking part in the tournaments of 2011, 2014 and 2016. They missed out in 2009 and 2018.
They were runners-up in 2016, losing the final to the DR Congo.
Burkina Faso will be making their third appearance in Cameroon, after 2014 and 2018.
They have never gone past the group stage.
The Warriors of Zimbabwe are one of the competition’s regulars. They only missed out of the 2018 tournament. They will be making their fifth appearance. They finished fourth in 2016 when they reached the semifinals.
Martin Ntoungou Mpile [Cameroon]
Former deputy coach of the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon Martin Ntoungou Mpile is Cameroon’s head coach. Mpile was appointed on October 21, 2020 by Cameroon’s Minister of Sports and Physical Education Prof. Narcisse Mouelle Kombi in collaboration with the Cameroon football federation.
It his second stint as head coach of the intermediate Lions of Cameroon having managed the team to quarter final during the 2016 African Nations Championship in Rwanda. His assistant in Sango Emmanuel Ndoumbe Bosso who coached the Cameroon team in the 2011 tournament in Sudan. He has a perfect mastery of local based players, as coach of Yong Sports Academy of Bamenda, Panthere, Sable and most-recently Cotonsport of Garoua.
Mpile and his team have been handed the mission to take Cameroon right to the final and to improve the system of play of the team in the CHAN 2020.
Zdravko Logarišić [Zimbabwe]
54-year-old Croatian Manager Zdravko Logarišic is in charge of all Zimbabwe’s senior national teams. The native of Slavonski Brod has a wealth of experience on the continent with coaching spells with clubs in Ghana, Kenya and Angola before taking over as national team coach of Sudan between 2017 and 2019 prior to his appointment in Zimbabwe.
He was appointed on January 29, 2020 as the new coach of the Warriors.
He is yet to make his mark in Zimbabwe, but he is a proven tactician on the continent and beyond.
Seydou Zerbo [Burkina Faso]
Seydou Zerbo is the former coach of Burkina Faso’s U-17 national team. He was promoted to take charge of thei local based national team at the end of the contract of his predecessor Drissa Malo.
He has the daunting task of overseeing the Stallions to a place in the knockout stages in the third time of asking.
Asked about the chances of his team to qualify for the knockout stages after the draws, Zerbo said he was confident that as a coach you cannot come into a tournament already defeated. He also stressed on the need for a good start.
Nouhoum Diane [Mali]
He led Stade Malien to a 7th domestic Cup title against Djoliba of Bamako last year. He also doubles as the country’s national U-17 coach.
He is one of the most respected coaches in Mali with a proven track record. Malians greatly believe in his abilities to do lead the Eagles to some big achievements in the 2020 CHAN.
Players to Watch:
Yannick Ndjeng (AS Futuro of Mfou)
Christian Mayo(Bamboutos of Mbouda)
Banga Solomon Bidjeme Charles (Cotonsport )
Yannick Ndjeng is arguably Cameroon’s most creative and most gifted player in the current squad of 28.
The 30-year-old AS Futuro forward is capable of deciding a game all on his own with his pace and trickery. He is one of the experienced players brought on board in the final phase of Cameroon’s preparations.
Bamboutos midfielder Christian Mayo has been Pundits attraction since joining the Club
The 22-year-old creative midfielder has a special eyes for good passes especially in the final third.
Another player to watch out for in this Cameroon team is defender Banga Solomon Bidjeme Charles.
His combative defensive style has made him a regular at Cotonsport for as many as three years. He was a part of the CHAN team in 2018. He is hugely talented and experienced but just needs to manage his temperament.
King Nadolo( Dynamos), Stanley Ngala (Platinum), Ishmael Wadi (Caps), Phineas Bamusi (Caps) and Moses Muchenje( Caps)
Zimbabwe will be traveling to Cameroon with a team of players who know themselves very well.
They have to do without the goal poaching skills of Prince Dube who scored four in the qualifiers as he has joined Tanzanian side Azam FC.
Another forward they will bank on is FC Platinum front man Stanley Ngala he is one of the best in their local league.
Coach Zdravko will have a problem of choice in midfield where the Caps trio of Ishmael Wadi, Moses Muchenje and Phenias Bamusi are expected to be the front runners, but King Nadolo of Dynamos also has a word or two to say.
Moussa Kone (Stade Malien) and Issaka Samake (Stade Malien)
Mali will greatly really on 29-year-old Stade Malien forward Moussa Kone for goals in Cameroon. He bagged three in the qualifiers.
His club teammate, 25-year-old defender Issaka Samake is another one they will be counting on. He is reliable in both boxes.
Stephane Pongnongo was Burkina Faso’s hero in the qualifiers as his late goal in Kumasi in the first leg and some resilient defending in Ouagadougou in the return leg game helped them secure qualification against Ghana who were considered as favorites in the tie.
He will be their player to watch in Cameroon.
This group is one that is comprised of some experienced campaigners, though none of them has ever lifted the trophy. Mali came closest in 2016 when they reached the final.
Cameroon as host Country are expected to throw in everything for a place in the next round, but that is not guaranteed with teams like Zimbabwe and Burkina Faso who will be coming with very homogeneous squads.
The will be no room for complacency and no margin for errors. Burkina Faso might be considered as the group’s underdogs but they might create one or two upsets.
Cameroon with the 12th man (if allowed) , that is their home support are expected to dominate the group but it’s really a close call.
Cameroon faced Burkina Faso in the 2018 competition and faced Mali under Ndoumbe Bosso in the 2011 competition.
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