Hosts Cameroon beat Burkina Faso in AFCON 2021 opening match

Africa Cup Of Nations trophy during a past Africa Cup of Nations Final soccer match. (Photo by liewig christian/Corbis via Getty Images)

Hosts Cameroon came from behind to defeat Burkina Faso 2-1 in the opening match of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations match at the Olembe Stadium in Yaoundé on Sunday.

The match was a competitive and, at times, tense affair against the backdrop of Burkina Faso’s threat to boycott the game due to what they alleged as irregularities in the COVID-19 test results of their players and staff.

FILE PHOTO: The Africa Cup Of Nations trophy during a past Africa Cup of Nations Final soccer match. /Getty Images

Burkina Faso took the lead shortly after the midway point of the first half against the run of play when Gustavo Sangare side-footed a cross from the right wing by captain Bertrand Traore.

The goal came during a moment of pressure from Burkina Faso who had an effort cleared off the line following a corner and then saw a follow-up cross from the left create a moment of danger in Cameroon’s penalty box.

Traore collected the loose ball after the cross and whipped in another one which Cameroon goalkeeper Andre Onana completely missed allowing Sangare to guide the ball in at the far post.

Cameroon, however, leveled the tie five minutes before halftime through a penalty by captain Vincent Aboubakar following a VAR check after Andre Zambo Anguissa was fouled by Traore.

The five-time African champions then took the lead in added time right at the end of the first half through another penalty by Aboubakar after Issoufou Dayo was judged to have made a late challenge on Cameroonian left back Nouhou Tolo.

Burkina Faso made a bright start to the second half with Onana pushing over a free-kick from Traore and then Cameroon, again, cleared a goal-bound effort off the line.

Cameroon thought they extended their lead on the hour mark but Aboubakar’s effort, which came after Nicolas Moumi Ngamaleu’s shot was saved, was ruled out after a lengthy VAR review.

Both teams tried to push on for another goal but resolute defending and some poor finishing saw the score remain the same.

The result means Cameroon tops Group A with three points while Burkina Faso is bottom with zero points. The other group game later on Sunday will see Ethiopia take on Cape Verde at the Olembe Stadium in Yaoundé.

(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)