Two of African football’s most renowned nations go up against each other in the second Africa Cup of Nations semi-final, with hosts Cameroon and Egypt set to clash.
This will be their 11th AFCON meeting, with no two teams facing each other more often in the competition’s history, but there will be as much – if not more – attention on what occurs away from the pitch on Thursday.
It will be the first match to be played at the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde since January 24, when eight people died and 38 were injured in a crush prior to Cameroon’s defeat of Comoros.
Cameroon great Samuel Eto’o, now president of the nation’s football federation, has already landed himself in hot water for appearing to attempt to motivate the Indomitable Lions by suggesting they need to approach the match like “a war”.
Egypt coach Carlos Queiroz strongly voiced his disapproval during a news conference, saying: “It is a very bad message to the people of Cameroon.
“I think he forgot that Cameroonian people died at the stadium a couple of days ago
To make this declaration of war before a game, I think he has learned nothing from being in professional football.”
On the pitch, the omens appear to be against Cameroon.
No team have got beyond the semi-finals as a host nation since Egypt in 2006, with the Pharaohs going on to win the tournament – they repeated the feat in each of the next two editions.
Nevertheless, Cameroon’s own semi-final record is good, progressing from seven of their previous nine such matches.
Either way, a giant of African football will be eliminated on Thursday.
Player to watch: Moumi Ngamaleu (Cameroon)
Most eyes will be on Mohamed Salah and Vincent Aboubakar, given they have been involved in more AFCON goals (nine) since 2017 than any other player, but in Ngamaleu, Cameroon have one of this edition’s most threatening players.
The Young Boys winger is a real live wire out wide, but he also has significant capabilities in terms of his service.
Ngamaleu’s nine chances created are the joint-most in the Cameroon squad and he ranks much higher than anyone else in the tournament for expected assists (2.25).
That gives those nine key passes an xA average of 0.25, which again makes him the most consistently threatening creator in the competition (minimum four chances created).