If we don’twin it, it will be difficult for us, the technical staff, everybody, because people here don’t forgive failure

By Eurosport.com and BBC

Cameroon coach Toni Conceicao admits the weight of public pressure is on him as his side hosts the Africa Cup of Nations, adding that the local fans “don’t forgive failure”.

The Portuguese is looking to lead the Indomitable Lions, who last lifted the trophy in 2017, to their sixth continental crown when the tournament begins on Sunday.

“We know that Cameroonians have high hopes because the competition is taking place here,” he told BBC Sport Africa.

“Since the moment it was decided that Afcon would be hosted in Cameroon, every Cameroonian has felt that this will give them the advantage to win the trophy. But for us football professionals we know it doesn’t work that way.

“We feel that people are more demanding of the Indomitable Lions because of their history and what they’ve accomplished in the past: five African titles and the seven times they’ve been present in the World Cup.

“I hope to win because if we don’t reach the objective of at least reaching the final, it’s going to be a difficult journey. We have to be mentally strong so we can at least reach the final.

“If we don’t, it will be difficult for us, the technical staff, to deal with the criticism, because people here don’t forgive failure.”

 

‘On alert’

Conceicao describes the group as “well-balanced”, but is undertandably wary of the challenges his side will face as they look to reach the knock-out stage.

“We’ve been watching a few of Burkina Faso’s games and they have a good team,” the 60-year-old added.

“Cape Verde have improved greatly and are ever-growing in experience and maturity.

“The opening game, whether it be at the World Cup, a championship in Cameroon or a European Championship, is always difficult.

“From a historic point of view, people think Burkina Faso and Cameroon will get through, but I don’t think like that. I will put my players on alert.”

The 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations is set to end on Sunday 6 February, when Yaounde hosts a final which many Cameroonians are hoping their team will be part of.

 

 

Home advantage sees Cameroon not just as favourites to emerge from their group in top spot but also among the frontrunners to take the big prize come February.
Although perhaps not the powerhouse of years gone by, the likes of Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana, Napoli’s on-loan Fulham midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Bayern Munich striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting are the standout names in an indomitable Lions team determined to impress in front of their own supporters.
They kick off their campaign against Burkina Faso who narrowly missed out on a chance to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar despite pushing Algeria all their way in their group. Aston Villa’s Bertrand Traore and Standard Liege striker Abdoul Tapsoba will be the key men for the surprise 2013 finalists.
Cape Verde have made great strides in African football over the past decade having reached the quarter-finals in their first appearance in 2013 followed by a narrow group stage exit two years later.

Although they missed the last two editions of the tournament, they head to Cameroon with confidence off the back of a strong World Cup qualifying campaign that saw them only miss out on a playoff place to Nigeria by a two points following a draw between the two sides in the decisive group game.

 

 

The tiny Island nation, whose policy of famously drawing on players of the country’s diaspora throughout Europe, will look to punch above it’s weight yet again.

Despite being one of the founder members of CAF and the tournament itself back in the 1950s, as well as lifting the trophy in 1962, Ethiopia have struggled on the football pitch for decades with this year set to be just their second tournament appearance for 40 years.
The team of mostly domestic-based players aren’t expected to make great waves in the competition but a recent surprise 1-1 draw with Ghana during the World Cup qualifying campaign suggests they should not be taken lightly by their supposedly more superior opponents.

SQUADS

 

CAMEROON

Goalkeepers: Simon Omossola (AS Vita Club, DR Congo), Devis Epassy (OFI Crete, Greece), Andre Onana (Ajax, Netherlands).
Defenders: Collins Fai (Standard Liege, Belgium), Olivier Mbaizo (Philadelphia Union, USA), Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui (Gent, Belgium), JC Castelletto (Nantes, France), Harold Moukoudi (St Etienne, France), Enzo Ebosse (Angers, France), Ambroise Oyongo Bitolo (Montpellier, France), Jerome Onguene (Red Bull Salzburg, Austria), Nouhou Tolo (Seattle Sounders, USA).
Midfielders: Jean Onana Junior (Bordeaux, France), Malong Kunde (Olympiakos, Greece), Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa (Napoli, Italy), Samuel Gouet Oum (Mechelen, Belgium), Martin Hongla (Hellas Verona, Italy), James Lea Siliki (Middlesbrough, England), Yvan Neyou (St Etienne, France).
Forwards: Ignatius Ganago (Lens, France), Christian Bassogog (Shanghai Shenua, China), Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (Bayern Munich, Germany), Stephane Bahoken (Angers, France), Karl Toko-Ekambi (Lyon, France), Moumi Ngamaleu (Young Boys, Switzerland), Vincent Aboubakar (Al Nasr, Saudi Arabia), Clinton Njie (Dinamo Moscow, Russia).

BURKINA FASO

Goalkeepers: Herve Koffi (Charleroi, Belgium), Aboubacar Sawadogo (Kadiogo, Burkina Faso), Soufiane Farid Ouedraogo (Fuenlabrada, Spain), Kilian Nikiema (ADO Den Haag, Netherlands).
Defenders: Edmond Tapsoba (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany), Issoufou Dayo (Renaissance Berkane, Morocco), Steeve Yago (Aris Limassol, Cyprus), Oula Traore (Horoya, Guinea), Patrick Malo (Hassania Agadir, Morocco), Issa Kabore (Troyes, France), Hermann Nikiema (Salitas, Burkina Faso), Soumaila Ouattara (FUS Rabat, Morocco).
Midfielders: Adama Guira (Racing Rioja, Spain), Blati Toure (Eskilstuna, Sweden), Gustavo Sangare (Quevilly-Rouen, France), Ismahila Ouedraogo (PAOK, Greece), Dramane Nikiema (Horoya, Guinea), Saidou Simpore (Al Ittihad, Egypt), Eric Traore (Pyramids, Egypt), Cyrille Barros Bayala (AC Ajaccio, France), Hassane Bande (Istra 1961, Croatia).
Forwards: Dango Ouattara (Lorient, France), Cheick Djibril Ouattara (Olympique Safi, Morocco), Zakaria Sanogo (Ararat-Armenia, Armenia), Kouame Botue (AC Ajaccio, France), Bertrand Traore (Aston Villa, England), Abdoul Tapsoba (Standard Liege, Belgium), Mohamed Konate (Akhmat, Russia).

 

ETHIOPIA

Goalkeepers: Teklemariam Shanko (Sidama Coffee, Ethiopia), Fasil Gebremichael (Bahir Dar Ketema, Ethiopia), Jemal Tassew (Adama Ketema, Ethiopia).
Defenders: Asrat Tunjo (Ethiopian Coffee, Ethiopia), Suleiman Hamid (St George, Ethiopia), Remedan Yesouf (Wolkite K, Ethiopia), Desta Yohannes (Adama K, Ethiopia), Aschalew Tamene (Fasil K, Ethiopia), Yared Bayeh (Fasil K, Ethiopia), Mignot Debebe (St George, Ethiopia), Menaf Awol (Bahir Dar K, Ethiopia).
Midfielders: Amanuel Yohannes (Ethiopian Coffee, Ethiopia), Gatuoch Panom (St George, Ethiopia), Shemeles Bekele (El Gouna, Egypt), Mesoud Mohammed (Jimma AJ, Ethiopia), Fitsum Alemu (Bahir Dar K, Ethiopia), Firew Solomon (Sidama Coffee, Ethiopia), Bezabeh Meleyou (Fasil K, Ethiopia).
Forwards: Abubeker Nassir (Ethiopian Coffee, Ethiopia), Getaneh Kebede (Wolkite K, Ethiopia), Amanuel Gebremichael (St George, Ethiopia), Shemeket Gugsa (Fasil K, Ethiopia), Mujib Kassim (JS Kabylie, Algeria), Mesfin Taffese (Hawassa K, Ethiopia), Dawa Hotessa (Adama K, Ethiopia).

CAPE VERDE

Goalkeepers: Vozinha (AEL Limassol, Cyprus), Marcio da Rosa (Montalegre, Portugal), Keven Ramos (Mindelese, Cape Verde), Elber Evora (AEL Limassol, Cyprus).
Defenders: Stopira (Fehervar, Hungary), Steven Fortes (Oostende, Belgium), Jeffry Fortes (De Graafschap, Netherlands), Steve Furtado (Beroe, Bulgaria), Roberto Lopes (Shamrock Rovers, Republic of Ireland), Joao Paulo Fernandes (Feirense, Portugal), Diney Borges (AS Far, Morocco), Ponck (Istanbul Basaksehir, Turkey), Dylan Tavares (Neuchatel Xamax, Switzerland), Delmiro Nascimento (Aris Limassol, Cyprus).
Midfielders: Kenny Rocha (Oostende, Belgium), Nuno Borges (Casa Pia, Portugal), Patrick Andrade (Qarabag, Azerbaijan), Jamiro Monteior (Philadelphia Union, USA), Nenass (Aalesund, Norway), Marco Soares (Arouca, Portugal).
Forwards: Ryan Mendes (Al Nasr, UAE), Willy Semedo (Pafos, Cyprus), Gilson Tavares (Estoril-Praia, Portugal), Willis Furtado (FK Jerv, Norway), Julio Tavares (Al Faisaly, Saudi Arabia), Garry Rodrigues (Olympiakos, Greece), Lisandro Semedo (Fortuna Sittard, Netherlands), Djaniny Semedo (Trabzonsport, Turkey).

 

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