FRANCEVILLE, Gabon, Jan 29 – Sadio Mane’s decisive penalty miss allowed Cameroon to knock fancied Senegal out of the Africa Cup of Nations in the quarter-finals on Saturday and join Burkina Faso in the last four.
Cameroon beat Senegal 5-4 on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes in Franceville, southern Gabon, in the day’s second game following a 2-0 win for Burkina Faso against Tunisia in Libreville earlier.
Liverpool star Mane was the only player to miss from the spot in the shoot-out in Franceville, with Cameroon goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa saving his effort from 12 yards.
Vincent Aboubakar then stepped up to score and take the Indomitable Lions through to the last four at the expense of a Senegal side who were one of the favourites coming into the tournament.
Cameroon, who also beat Senegal on penalties in the final of the 2002 Cup of Nations, can now look forward to a semi-final tie against either DR Congo or Ghana in Franceville on Thursday.
It is the first time Cameroon have reached the last four since 2008, when they lost to Egypt in the final in Ghana.
“We have the possibility to write a beautiful page in our history and we do not want to stop here,” Cameroon captain Benjamin Moukandjo told Canal Plus Afrique.
“We’re going one game at a time. We have a semi-final to play, and whoever it is against we hope it will be as beautiful as this.”
Senegal had enjoyed the better of the chances in normal time, but could not find a way past Ondoa, who was in inspired form.
“Our performance was good. We tried to play football against a side who were well organised and got men behind the ball,” said the Senegal coach Aliou Cisse, who had missed the crucial penalty when the Lions of Teranga lost the 2002 final.
“We know about penalties. It comes down to luck. They won it and I wish them good luck.”
Senegal’s elimination means the three men who made up the podium for the 2016 African Footballer of the Year award have all been knocked out of the Cup of Nations, with Mane joining Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez and Gabon’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in heading for the exit.
– Supersub Bance –
Nobody had expected to see Cameroon go far after their build-up to the tournament had been marred by the refusal of several key players to accept call-ups.
Few tipped Burkina Faso to go far either, but the 2013 runners-up secured their place in the last four by getting the better of Tunisia with two late goals.
The Stallions had looked the more dangerous side throughout but it took the late introduction of Aristide Bance to make the difference.
Portuguese coach Paulo Duarte introduced the giant striker on 76 minutes as a tight, physical last-eight clash seemed destined for extra time.
Within five minutes Bance broke the deadlock in front of a sparse crowd in Libreville by slamming the ball into the net after a free-kick was pushed into his path just outside the box.
Prejuce Nakoulma doubled the lead on 84 minutes through a breakaway goal and Burkina Faso will now meet Egypt or Morocco at the same venue on Wednesday.
“We produced high-level football,” said Duarte. “There was quality and confidence in our performance.
“The dream is to do better than in 2013, but it will not be easy.”
Tunisia coach Henryk Kasperczak said: “We did not show our qualities. We did not possess the rage to win.
“We were a little tired, the physical freshness was not perfect, we did not play quickly enough when attacking.”
DR Congo and 2015 runners-up Ghana meet in Oyem on Sunday at 1600 GMT.
The last quarter-final, between Herve Renard’s Morocco and their north African rivals Egypt, is in Port-Gentil at 1900 GMT.