Cameroon overcame D.R. Congo 3-1 at Huye Stadium in the final match of Group B at CHAN 2016, securing top spot as both nations progressed to the knockout rounds.
The Indomitable Lions were glancing over their shoulder, hoping Ethiopia did not heavily defeat Angola in their game in Kigali, Rwanda, but the Walias were soundly defeated 2-1, extinguishing their very slim chance of qualification.
Here is how Group B looks at the conclusion of the opening phase, per CAF's official Twitter feed, and a glance at the forthcoming fixtures remaining before the knockouts:
|Monday's Group B Results|
Here is how Group B looks like after the last round. #ETHAGO #CMRCOD #CHAN2016 https://t.co/0gamEZbm7a2016-1-25 15:54:35
|Jan. 26||1 p.m. / 8 a.m.||C||Guinea vs. Nigeria|
|Jan. 26||4 p.m. / 11 a.m.||C||Niger vs. Tunisia|
|Jan. 27||1 p.m. / 8 a.m.||D||Zambia vs. Mali|
|Jan. 27||4 p.m. / 11 a.m.||D||Uganda vs. Zimbabwe|
Cameroon knew before their final group match against D.R. Congo they only needed to avoid a heavy defeat on Monday, allowing their goal difference to protect them if Ethiopia romped to a high scoring victory against Angola.
However, they need not have worried after turning on the style against the group leaders, leapfrogging them in the process.
The contest between the Leopards and the Indomitable Lions was set to decide who would be declared winners of Group B, and the match did not disappoint.
CAF shared images of the encounter on social media:
Snaps from the action: Cameroon 3-1 RD Congo #CMRCOD #CHAN2016 https://t.co/pEIBQAhwiB2016-1-25 16:03:12
D.R. Congo made nine changes to their starting XI, safe in the knowledge they had qualified for the next stage. Cameroon took advantage of this as their opponent's chemistry suffered, allowing the Lions time and space.
Samuel Nlend spurned a gilt-edged chance to give Cameroon the lead midway through the first-half, finding himself free in the penalty area but unable to hold his nerve to finish.
Cameroon grabbed the opening goal shortly before the break. Yazid Atouba Emane was the hero after being found by Samuel, coolly finishing to give his team the half-time edge.
However, D.R. Congo were back on level terms in the opening moments of the second half as Jean-Marc Makusu struck.
The 23-year-old finished a neat passing move for the Leopards and made no mistake after cutting the Cameroon defence to shreds.
The score remained level for only five minutes before Cameroon added their second through Moumi Ngamaleu Brice. The forward volleyed his chance with power and conviction, making sure it hit the back of the net.
Samuel grabbed Cameroon's third after 73 minutes, giving the Indomitable Lions control of the fixture and group. The player chipped the goalkeeper after the D.R. Congo defence fell asleep, gifting the ball to the midfielder and sealing the points.
The tournament's official Twitter feed confirmed who each side will face next at CHAN 2016:
Orange CHAN 2016 @CHANRwanda
Cameroon will face Ivory Coast in the quarterfinals while DR Congo will be up against neighbours Rwanda. #CHAN20162016-1-25 15:51:26
In Monday's other match, Angola ended their campaign in style by defeating Ethiopia, who could not qualify after Cameroon's win.
A goalless first 45 minutes—full of caution and deliberate play—was punctured by an entertaining second half as the both sides found the back of the net.
Manuel Afonso struck nine minutes into the half for Angola, finishing from close range, and he added a second for his country 17 minutes from time to attain a convincing advantage.
However, Seyoum Tesfaye pulled one back for Ethiopia just two minutes later, forcing a close finish to proceedings. But it was too little, too late for the Walias, who fell to their second defeat of the competition, and finish bottom of the group.
Cameroon saved the best until last, playing their best football against the form team of the group.
The Lions roared in the second half against D.R. Congo and will like their chances as the competition rushes to the knockout phase.