Guinea-Bissau took the lead against Cameroon on Wednesday evening but the Indomitable Lions scored twice in the second half to win 2-1 in Libreville.
With the win the Indomitable Lions moved to the top of Group A on four points, ahead of Africa Cup of Nations hosts Gabon and Burkina Faso who played out to their second 1-1 draw earlier at Stade de l’Amitie.
Cameroon were forced to work hard for their win on Wednesday evening, the first three-pointer in a group that will conclude on Sunday. Their Belgian coach Hugo Broos made two changes to his starting XI for the match against the Guinea-Bissau, bringing in right-back Collins Fai and striker Vincent Aboubakar.
In turn, his counterpart Baciro Cande made three changes with Mamadou Cande (left-back), Frederic Mendy (striker) and Piqueti Brito Silva (left-wing) starting the match. As it happened, Piqueti proved an inspired selection as he scored the tournament’s best goal to date after 13 minutes.
Gathering the ball deep in his area, the right-footed left-winger lobbed Fai and then evaded a challenge from Siani before running at a retreating Michael Ngadeu. Piqueti easily got the better of the Cameroonian centre-back by cutting inside him inside the box before rifling a shot beyond Fabrice Ondoa’s grasp.
The African Wild Dogs (Djurtus) weren’t supposed to prove a challenge for the four-time Africa Cup of Nations champions but they proved deserved leaders by keeping the Indomitable Lions at bay until halftime, despite decent chances for Clinton Njie, Adolphe Teikeu, their captain Benjamin Moukandjo and Aboubakar.
The second half was a different affair, though. Broos made a change at the break, taking off Njie for Karl Toko who added more impetus down the left flank but still had to wait patiently to get back into the match.
The pivotal moment came just after the hour mark when Moukandjo played the ball into Sebastian Siani’s path just outside the Guinea-Bissau area and he thumped his shot beyond the grasp of Jonas Mendes.
Broos reacted to the equaliser by making a bold double change: Nicolas Nkoulou came on for Georges Mandjeck with Ngadeu stepping out of defence into midfield and Robert Ndip Tambe replaced the ineffectual Aboubakar up front.
The reason wasn’t immediately evident but with 12 minutes to go Broos and the Cameroon supporters were to be rewarded. Christian Bassogog caused problems for the deep-lying Guinea-Bissau defence and the ball spat out to Ngadeu on the edge of the box from where he fired a scorcher past Jonas’ left hand to put Cameroon 2-1 up.
Cande’s charges fought valiantly to equalise but in the end couldn’t find a way past the Cameroonians who showed their class throughout a dominant second half. Gabon will have their work cut out on Sunday to get a positive result if they are to progress from this intriguing group.