Cameroon v Guinea-Bissau: Seedorf's Indomitable Lions 'serene' despite bonus row
Cameroon's camp is "serene" ahead of their Africa Cup of Nations opener with Guinea-Bissau, according to head coach Clarence Seedorf, whose side delayed their departure because of a row over bonuses. The defending champions had staged a sit-in protest and only left for Egypt on Friday after further discussions with the country's sporting officials.
Seedorf, though, is not concerned about their turbulent preparations affecting the Indomitable Lions' hopes of retaining the trophy. "We are serene and we know why we're here. At no moment has the team spirit changed. We have a joyful group, with players who know what appearing in such an event represents," said the former AC Milan star.
"Actually the bonus crisis has reinforced the team spirit and the determination within the squad to perform well. There was some tension but the players have behaved maturely and they've decided to be here to fight for Cameroon. "Bonus rows are not something particular to Cameroon or Africa, I've seen similar events across the world but we don't want to let this distort our ambition.
"The players have maintained the same intensity and concentration. The team is ready and they can't wait to start the first match." Cameroon beat Egypt 2-1 in the 2017 final to win a fifth AFCON title. While they have significant pedigree in the competition, Guinea-Bissau are making only their second appearance in the competition.
They claimed their first point through a 1-1 draw with Gabon in 2017 but have higher hopes this time around after topping their qualifying group. "Our first ambition at this moment is to get through the first phase and to try and reach the quarter-finals," said coach Baciro Cande. "Our first Cup of Nations was great exposure.
"We got a chance to participate but we did not have the experience, but this second time we have more chance. We know in advance that Guinea-Bissau is a small country and we do not have the strength that the other countries have like Cameroon and Ghana. "We will look to our strengths in every game and I assure you that Guinea-Bissau will give a good account of themselves."
Cameroon - Karl Toko Ekambi
Seedorf had to leave Vincent Aboubakar out of his squad because of injury, and Ekambi will be among those called on to fill the void. Ekambi scored 10 goals in 24 LaLiga games for Villarreal in 2018-19 to help keep them in the top flight.
Guinea-Bissau - Zezinho
Having guided Guinea-Bissau to their AFCON debut in 2017, the captain – likely to play in an attacking midfield role – will have to lead by example as they bid to claim a huge shock.
KEY OPTA FACTS
- Cameroon and Guinea-Bissau's only previous encounter in the Africa Cup of Nations ended in a 2-1 win for Cameroon in the 2017 group stages.
- Cameroon are making their 19th appearance in the AFCON. They have won it five times (1984, 1988, 2000, 2002, 2017), with only Egypt having been more successful (7 trophies).
- Cameroon are the defending champions, having won the AFCON in 2017. The last team to win back-to-back AFCON titles were Egypt (3 in a row from 2006 to 2010).
- Six of Cameroon's seven goals in their victorious 2017 AFCON campaign were scored from the 59th minute onwards.
- This is Guinea-Bissau's second AFCON appearance after making their debut in the last edition in 2017 – they finished bottom of their group with one point (D1 L2).