Lopes and Cape Verde in waiting game at AFCON
CRUMLIN native Roberto Lopes and Cape Verde will have an anxious wait before discovering their Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) fate after they played out a 1-1 draw with host country Cameroon at the Olembe Stadium in Yaoundé last night.
Following a 39th-minute opener from the vastly-experienced Vincent Aboubakar – playing in his home city – Garry Rodrigues got Cape Verde back on level terms eight minutes into the second half.
Another goal would have seen Bubista’s charges leapfrog the already-qualified Cameroon into top spot in Group A, but instead, they find themselves third in the final standings – just behind Burkina Faso on head-to-head.
It remains to be seen if Lopes’ fascinating AFCON journey will be extended into the knockout phase of the tournament.
Four of the six teams that finish third in their group are afforded a route into the Round of 16, but with the preliminary phase not being completed until Thursday, it is unclear at the moment if they will still be in the reckoning by the end of this week.
Shamrock Rovers star Lopes is certainly doing his bit for the cause as he was named man-of-the-match against Cameroon after delivering a powerful display at the heart of the Cape Verde defence.
Although he was only picking up his 11th cap yesterday evening, Lopes is fast becoming a vital cog in their side. He lines out in a back-three for Shamrock Rovers on a regular basis and takes up a similar role within this Cape Verde outfit.
With four goals to his name already in the tournament, Aboubakar was always likely to be the biggest attacking threat from a Cameroonian perspective.
He had a couple of sightings at goal before eventually firing home after a Moumi Ngamaleu free-kick had only been partially cleared.
This left Cape Verde facing the prospect of a second consecutive defeat but, having enjoyed a promising end to the opening period, they restored parity with a superb back-heeled finish by substitute Rodrigues on 53 minutes.
Despite breathing a sigh of relief when Aboubakar lashed over after goalkeeper Vozinha failed to gather a cross from the left-wing, Cape Verde did enough to deny Cameroon an unblemished record in the group as well as giving themselves a fighting chance of staying in the tournament.