The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon play against the Black Stars of Ghana Thursday 02 February in Franceville in the second semi-final game of the Africa Cup of Nations, Gabon 2017.

Both sides are going into this encounter with a lot of ambition since the two sides have gone for a pretty long time without tasting the ultimate glory of the tournament. Coming this close only makes the “appetite” for the trophy bigger – and the game promising to be exciting.

History and historical re-make

Talking head-to-head between Cameroon and Ghana they have met four times at the Africa Cup of Nations since the 1970s. Each side has won once and they both picked up a draw twice.

Head-to-head Cameroon v Ghana:

Tuesday 09 March 1982 Cameroon 0-0 GhanaSunday 04 October 1998 Cameroon 1-3 GhanaSaturday 22 January 2000 Cameroon 1-1 GhanaThursday 07 February 2008 Cameroon 1-0 Ghana

Cameroon won the Africa Cup of Nations trophy twice in a row at the turn of the millennium. But three of their last four appearances have seen them exit at the quarterfinals, while in 2015 they didn’t make it out of the group stage. Ghana have been at the semi-finals in the past five editions of the Africa Cup of Nations (2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2015). So 2017 makes it six consecutive semi-finals for Ghana. Yet they have progressed to the final on just two of the five previous occasions, losing to Cote d’Ivoire at the final in the last case in Equatorial Guinea 2015.

The last time Cameroon and Ghana met at the tournament was back in 2008 and it was at this same level of the competition. Cameroon spoiled the Ghana-party, defeating the host-nation by a slim 1-0 victory but just to go on to “hand” the trophy to Egypt at the final. All the three actors of the 2008 experience are present in this new “Season” of the CAF “series”.

A contrast of fortunes

The Cameroon team at this edition of the Africa Cup of Nations is somewhat lacking in star potential – no big-names like the team was renowned to have in the past. Most of players in the squad are reaching prominence participating in this tournament. And apart from the goalkeeper, Fabrice Ondoa, none of the players has actually stood out at his post – as is revealed in the changes in the composition of the line-up in their past four games. Nevertheless, the Indomitable Lions have been phenomenal in their new-found solid collective and defensive performance. They have stayed focused on keeping it tight at the back and remaining as controlled as possible so as not to pick up common fouls around their vital area. And with this strategy, they are keeping the momentum unbroken as they take one game at a time towards the final.

Ghana have a bit more up their sleeves in terms of quality, although captain and star-striker, Asamoah Gyan, could miss out again after he picked up an injury playing against Egypt. But they have the driving force in the “engine” of Christian Atsu and the striking force in the geniuses of the Ayew brothers. And they are sure to keep the cool-headedness they employed to see off the Congolese at the quarterfinals.

Eyes set on the trophy

Both Cameroon and Ghana have won the Africa Cup of Nations trophy four times: Cameroon won in 1984, 1988, 2000 and 2002; Ghana won in 1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982. It is a long wait for both countries to win the trophy again – 15 years for Cameroon and 35 years for Ghana. This has fashioned their “appetite” for this accolade to be even bigger. And many fans of the game want to believe this long wait by both teams is going to serve the ignition of the fireworks spectators would love to see during the encounter on Thursday. The tournament is now blown wide open for both teams, with the winners of the semi-final game taking the one-big step that brings them closer to the coveted trophy.

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