Hosts Cameroon reached the quarter-finals of the TOTAL African Nations Championship (CHAN) after playing out to a 0-0 draw with Burkina Faso on Sunday.
The result of the Group A clash at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaounde means Stallions crash out of the competition as they finish third in the group.
Mali finished top of the group with seven points after defeating Zimbabwe 1-0 in the group’s other game played at the Japoma Stadium in Douala also on Sunday.
Cameroon finished second with five points, Burkina Faso third with four points while Zimbabwe ended bottom of the group with no points.
Mali and Cameroon will advance from Group A but will have to wait for the outcome of Monday’s Group B matches to know their opponents in the last eight of the tournament exclusively designed for home-based players.
Knowing that only a victory could help them advance from the tough Group A, the Stallions took charge of the game from the blast of the whistle dominating the exchanges at the early stage.
They took advantage of their dominance to create some anxious moments from the Lions and Mohamed Ouattara should have done better after an inviting cross from the left.
The ball beat goalkeeper Haschou Kerrido but the Burkinabe striker’s connecting shot flashed across the face of goal from a tight angle.
Kerrido then produced some fantastic saves to keep his side in the game as the Burkinabe spotted some opening on the right side of the Cameroonian defence.
Speedy winger Sansan Hassamy Dah forced a great save from the Cameroon glovesman from close range as the Stallions continued to pile the pressure on the home side.
Kerrido was called into action again and he passed with flying colours with another fantastic save, on the half hour mark, after striker Ouatarra’s powerful header from a cross from the left.
Moments later Kerrido miscalculated a long ball from Claver Kiendrebeogo by moving out of his goal area and before the Lions shot-stopper could reach the ball he had been outwitted.
The sprinting Stallions midfielder shot towards an empty goal but Cameroon strong defender Felix defender cleared the ball before it could enter the net to the relief of the teeming home fans.
The Lions gained control of the game towards the end of the first half with their best chance coming just three minutes before the break.
A fantastic free-kick from the right side of the Burkina Faso area was met by Joel Ngon, whose header just flashed wide.
The Burkinabes continued to threaten the goal area of the Cameroonians after the break and a dipping free-kick by midfielder Sami Hien in the 55th minute was excellently tipped over by Kerrido.
The two sides became cautious and were unwilling to open up until the 68th minute when Ngon, even though he was surrounded by four Burkinabe defenders, managed to squeeze into the box but his final shot was saved by goalkeeper Aboubabcar Sawadogo.
With few chances created in the last 15 minutes of the match, Cameroon fans started jubilating knowing that their place in the quarter-final is secured.
The Indomitable Lions will play Group B winners at the Japoma Stadium in Douala on Saturday while Mali will stay in Yaounde to take on the second-placed team in Group B at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium also on Saturday.
Martin Mpile (Coach, Cameroon)
First of all, I thank the Burkina Faso team which presented an excellent team, playing great football. Between playing well and qualifying I would rather qualify for the next round than play well and be eliminated. For the quarterfinals. of the final, we will prepare the match calmly and in the best conditions to look good.
We had a lot of problems in the first half against the offensives of Burkina Faso. In the second half, we tried to manage the match and ensure the qualification. Regarding the Zoua case, the players are not yet 100% recovered and I did not want to risk by bringing him in. “
Seydou Zerbo (Coach, Burkina Faso)
We were too offensive, and we could score two or three goals from the start of the game but the efficiency was not enough. However, the game was fun. We narrowly missed the qualification and that’s football.