AFCON 2021 hosts Cameroon had no problems as they ended the fairytale run of debutants Gambia with a 2-0 win at the Douala Stadium in the first quarterfinal match of the tournament.
The build-up to the match between The Scorpions of Gambia and AFCON 2021 hosts, Cameroon, was marred by accusations of irregularities with COVID-19 tests levelled by the minnows, as they insinuated that the hosts were being shady in their dealings.
The match in Douala started with the Indomitable Lions showing their class against the 150th-ranked Gambian side, who looked a level below the hosts. Cameroon tried, but could not breach the Gambian rearguard, with captain Vincent Aboubakar coming closest to breaking the deadlock after 30 minutes, but his header from inside the box narrowly missed the far post.
The breakthrough for Cameroon eventually came five minutes into the second half as UEFA Europa League top scorer and Olympique Lyonnais striker Karl Toko-Ekambi leapt highest to head home an inch-perfect cross from Collins Fai, sending the fans and players into raptures.
Veteran Gambia coach Tom Saintfiet turned to his bench and made a triple change shortly after, sending on Ebrima Darboe, Ebrima Colley and Modou Barrow in a bid to wrest control from Cameroon.
As the substitutes were getting to know their positions on the pitch, Cameroon doubled their advantage and seemingly put the game to bed.
Toko-Ekambi got on the end of a low cross sent across the face of goal by Martin Hongla and finished with aplomb in the 57th minute to score his fifth goal of the tournament.
Cameroon continued to retain control of the game, denying their opponents any chance to get back in the game.
Former Tottenham winger Clinton N’jie missed a golden chance to score a third for the Indomitable Lions after a brilliant ball over the top from goalkeeper Andre Obama sent him through on goal, but the winger’s finish was poor and easily blocked by the Gambian goalkeeper. Aboubakar sent the follow-up flying over the bar from an awkward height as the hosts closed out the game.
Gambia saw their journey at AFCON 2021 come to an end at the hands of a superior Cameroon side. The Scorpions could not lay a glove on the hosts and managed only one shot on target throughout the 90 minutes of the encounter.
Cameroon will continue their march towards the AFCON 2021 title on home soil in the semifinal on Wednesday February 2nd against the winners of the game between Senegal and Equatorial Guinea.