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2022 Women’s Afcon: Cameroon held to barren draw by Zambia

Wasteful Cameroon squandered a myriad of opportunities as they were held to a goalless draw by Zambia in their opening game of the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Casablanca on Sunday.

It was a blow to Cameroon, who are among the favourites and looking for a positive start to the tournament in Morocco.

Zambia managed to hold on without their star player, Barbara Banda, who is sidelined due to medical reasons, although, no further explanation was given.

Cameroon played under the watchful eye of new Cameroon Football Federation President, Samuel Eto’o.

Cameroon looked the more dangerous of the two sides in the first half. Zambia’s goalkeeper, Hazel Nali, was forced into action in the third minute to deny Cameroon‘s captain, Gabrielle Onguene.

Cameroon kept knocking and again nearly got the breakthrough in the 11th minute as Irene Lungu’s failed clearance put the ball in the path of Genevieve Ngo Mbeleck whose cross was desperately cleared by Martha Tembo before it could reach the boot of Cameroonian striker Michaela Abam.

Mbeleck remained in the midst of the action, her 20th-minute freekick from a tough angle drifting over the top of the crossbar.

Cameroon’s best chance of the half came in the 28th minute from a Colette Ndzana cross, which was headed by Abam into the path of Monique Ngock who sent the ball sailing over the bar from in front of goal.

Zambia managed two long-range free-kick attempts on target, but neither were powerful enough to trouble Ange Bawou in Cameroon’s goal.

Cameroon kept applying the pressure in a drama-filled second half which included a change of referee. Cameroon had a penalty appeal checked by VAR in the 49th minute which found that Ngock had committed a foul on her way to volleying the ball into Lushomo Mweemba’s arm and the decision went Zambia’s way.

Cameroon should have taken the lead in the 64th minute after a brilliant long pass from Estelle Johnson into the path of substitute Alice Kameni, who rolled the ball wide of the post from point-blank range.

Grace Chanda tried to rally her troops as she had the best of Zambia’s chances in the half, attempting to find the target from distance in both the 72nd and 82nd minutes, but neither attempt seriously bothered Bawou.

Zambia’s cries for a possible handball from their 85th-minute free-kick fell on deaf ears.

Cameroon’s frustrations continued as they were denied a late winner in stoppage time by a heroic goalline clearance from Mweeba.

Again, Cameroon should have won the game in the 97th minute, as they netted from a defensive lapse from Zambia’s defence, however, their celebrations were cut short as would-be goal scorer Ajara Nchout was ruled offside.



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