Cameroon can land a knockout punch to Group M rivals, South Africa, when the teams meet in a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on Saturday. Kick-off at the Limbe Omnisports Stadium is set for 4.30 pm.
Bafana Bafana heads into the match with just one point from its opening two qualifiers, after being held to a goalless draw at home by Gambia before suffering an embarrassing 3-1 defeat away to Mauritania.
The Indomitable Lions, in contrast, top the pool with two wins from two: 1-0 at home to Mauritania and 1-0 away to Gambia. This effectively means that SA’s hopes of qualifying will depend on beating Cameroon.
This match will be the first in charge for Cameroon’s new Belgian coach Hugo Broos, who was a surprise, pick for the post and will be looking to make a good impression on home soil.
“We will put the team on the ground, be ready, and will fight to the last minute. Then we’ll see, this is football,” said Broos of the match against South Africa.
“South Africa also has its weaknesses. We’ll see which team will capitalise on the weaknesses of the other.”
Hugo Broos equally dismissed reports suggesting that Cameroon is favourites to beat South Africa on home and away in the qualifiers.
“Absolutely not, I don’t think so,” Broos said.
“Perhaps based on the rankings yes, but South Africa has become a country with more quality in the last few years.
“Again, from what I’ve seen in the matches that I watched, it is obvious that we will have to play at a very high level.”
Cameroon occupy 61st place in the latest FIFA World Rankings, South Africa climbed three places to 70th.
Shakes Mashaba, Bafana coach, has acknowledged that the Cameroon matches were vital for his team as far as reaching Gabon 2017 was concerned.
“These two matches are almost a make-or-break for us. If we want to resurrect our campaign, these are the matches that we will have to do well in,” said Mashaba.
He added, “We have to put up a fight as though our lives depend on these matches. I believe we have selected a strong team that will deliver.”
The good news for South Africa is that they have a strong record against Cameroon, with three wins and just one loss from six official matches between the teams.
However, the most recent meeting was way back in 2008 (a 3-2 win for SA in that year’s Nelson Mandela Challenge match) and all six encounters have been played on South African soil; Bafana Bafana has never played the Indomitable Lions in their own backyard.