Cameroon’s 3-1 defeat to Senegal was the first game across their last eight matches in which they conceded more than a single goal, and it wasn’t long before they almost conceded their first of the afternoon. A cracking shot by the Gambia marksman Ali Sowe was firmly parried away by Fabrice Ondoa, as the Scorpions threatened to take the lead within 10 minutes of kick-off.
However, Rigobert Song’s men comfortably took charge of possession thereafter, relying heavily on the showmanship of their shot-stopper to play spoilsport and deny the Gambia the chance to open their account this AFCON campaign.
The Nimes Olympique keeper pulled off two impressive saves in quick succession to keep the scores level heading into the interval, the best of which denied Musa Barrow’s venomous drive from inside the box.
Georges-Kevin N’Koudou missed a wonderful chance to break open the deadlock immediately after the restart, crashing his effort from point-blank range off the woodwork, before Cameroon’s creator-in-chief turned provider.
The Indomitable Lions emerged with the goods via Karl Toko Ekambi’s header as the 31-year-old squeezed his way past two defenders to break open the deadlock, netting his 14th international goal.
However, the Scorpions did sting back without delay, with Ablie Jallow latching onto an inch-perfect cross and drilling home a low drive to upset the five-time AFCON champions as the final quarter-hour dawned.
Minutes later after Ekambi rattled the crossbar at the other end, the Gambia took heed and came up with the goods five minutes from FT, with substitute Ebrima Colley netting a strong shot into the far corner to upset the Indomitable Lions.
However, all was not lost, as they were gifted the equaliser moments later when James Gomez turned a low cross into his own net to suppress his nation’s joy.
Further late drama ensued, as Christopher Wooh rose high amid a crowded box to head home the winner from a corner delivery and confirm Cameroon’s advancement into the AFCON knockout stages.
While many thought the Gambia equalised deep into stoppage time, Colley’s deliberate Maradona-esque handball soon turned distasteful, as Tom Saintfiet’s men crashed out of the tournament without a point to their name.