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Remarkable Cameroon earns third place at AFCON

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Cameroon’s players pose as they celebrate their victory after the penalty shoot-out at the end of the Africa Cup of Nations 2021 third place football match against Burkina Faso on Saturday. AFP

Remarkable Cameroon earns third place at AFCON

Hosts Cameroon finished third at the Africa Cup of Nations on Saturday after wiping out a three-goal deficit against Burkina Faso to draw 3-3, then win 5-3 on penalties.

Ambroise Oyongo scored the decisive penalty in Yaounde as the Indomitable Lions atoned for missing three kicks when losing a semi-final shootout against Egypt 48 hours ago.

Goals by Steeve Yago and Djibril Ouattara either side of an Andre Onana own goal gave the Burkinabe a 3-0 lead with 20 minutes remaining.

Stephane Bahoken reduced arrears and then substitute Vincent Aboubakar netted on 85 and 87 minutes to force a shootout.

The Cup of Nations final between Senegal and Egypt, with Liverpool stars Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah on opposite sides, was staged on Sunday in Yaounde.

Cameroon coach Toni Conceicao made nine changes to the team that lost on penalties to Egypt after extra time just two days ago at Stade Olembe, the main Yaounde stadium.

The Portuguese retained only goalkeeper Andre Onana and midfielder Samuel Oum Gouet, who was replaced at half-time by leading tournament scorer Aboubakar.

Burkina Faso boss Kamou Malo altered five of the team that started a 3-1 semi-final loss to Sadio Mane-inspired Senegal 24 hours before Cameroon played.

Two of them were enforced with injured goalkeeper Herve Koffi replaced by Farid Ouedraogo while suspended midfielder Adama Guira gave way to Ismahila Ouedraogo.

The countries had met three times before in the flagship African tournament with Cameroon winning twice, including in the opening match of this Cup of Nations, and drawing the other.

It was the third bronze medals play-off for both teams with each winning and losing once in a fixture that Africa has retained while Europe has ditched.

Similar goal

Farid Ouedraogo made saves in quick succession from stand-in captain Oyongo and Jean Onana that led to him needing treatment for an injury as Cameroon threatened to score first.

Burkina Faso barely looked menacing before taking the lead on 24 minutes when Yago crept in at the far post to half volley an Issa Kabore cross into the roof of the net.

It was a similar goal to that scored by Burkinabe Gustavo Sangare in the opening match on January 9 before Aboubakar converted two penalties to give Cameroon maximum points.

The Stallions doubled their lead in the final minute of regular first half time when Andre Onana let a Kabore cross slip from his grasp into the net for an own goal.

Initially, the referee disallowed the goal because he incorrectly believed the ball had crossed the line, but the VAR official convinced him to change his decision.

Burkina Faso, who edged Ghana to finish third in their last Cup of Nations appearance five years ago, added a third goal just four minutes into the second half.

Aston Villa forward Bertrand Traore crossed from the right and a powerful header from Djibril Ouattara gave no chance to Andre Onana, who is set to move from Ajax to Inter Milan in July.

Bahoken pulled one goal back for the Indomitable Lions on 71 minutes when the Burkinabe failed to clear a corner and the forward fired into the net from point-blank range.

The goal triggered a remarkable comeback with Aboubakar netting twice in quick succession as full-time approached to force a penalty shootout.

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