A second-half header by Jerome Ngom Mbekeli steered Cameroon to a 1-0 win over regional rivals Congo in their 2022 Championship of African Nations (CHAN) clash in Oran on Monday.
The 24-year-old, who plays for local side Colombe, rose highest in the 63rd minute to connect Ramses Nguimzeu’s cross from the left to hand the Intermediate Lions the much-needed victory at the Oran Olympic Stadium.
The goal, just after the hour mark, was one of the several opportunities Cameroon created but needed the ingenuity of Mbekeli to be able to utilize that chance in the Group E match that the two goalkeepers were tested.
But it was the Congolese who threatened early in the game with youngster Sousou Ilendo side-footing an effort over goalkeeper Marcelin Mbahbi’s bar after an excellent pass from Che Malone at the edge of the box.
Cameroon responded moments later as Mbekeli, who played for his country at the 2022 World Cup, Djawal Kaiba in the area but his shot was tipped over by goalkeeper Pavelh Ndzila, who was making his fourth CHAN appearance.
The young Congolese side, who came into the tournament having reached the quarter-finals in each of their last two CHAN appearances, created some chances but were unable to turn them into goals.
The Congolese made some changes after the break with Georges Kader taking the place of young Prince Sousou as coach Jean Elie Ngoya sought to bring some creativity to his midfield.
Despite the change Cameroon continued to dominate the match with Mbekeli setting up for Cotonsport’s Rameses Donfack but Jobel Ondongo put his body on the line to block the goalbound ball.
Congo substitute Kader brought out a point-blank save from Mbahbi before the Lions hit back with Mbekeli running behind the defence of their opponents to head in the cross from Donfack.
A late surge by the Congolese in their quest to grab the equalizer did not result in any opportunity as Cameroon defenders were resolute to hold on to seal the victory.
With just one team qualifying from the three-team Group E, Cameroon will be on standby on Friday while Congo face Niger at the same venue.
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— MARHABA (@CAF_Online) January 16, 2023