JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Nov 11 – Yves Banana scored in stoppage time to salvage a 2-2 draw for Cameroon in Zambia on Saturday at the end of a disappointing World Cup Group B campaign for the African champions.
Zambia teenager Patson Daka opened the scoring and set up Brian Mwila to put the hosts ahead again after Senegal had leveled before half time in the central city of Ndola.
Andre-Franck Zambo Anguissa scored the first Cameroon equaliser and Banana’s glancing header restored parity a minute into additional time.
The result meant the “Indomitable Lions” finished third in Group B with seven points, having won only one of their six matches, at home to off-form Algeria last month.
Cameroon had been expected to mount a strong challenge for first place and a ticket to the 2018 finals in Russia as they chased a record-extending eighth World Cup appearance by an African country.
But after drawing away to Algeria and at home to Zambia last year, they were trounced 4-0 by eventual group winners Nigeria two months ago to effectively drop out of contention.
Nigeria drew 1-1 in Algeria Friday to finish with 14 points, followed by Zambia (eight), Cameroon (seven) and Algeria (two).
Cameroon sprang a surprise last February by winning the Africa Cup of Nations in neighbouring Gabon, coming from behind to beat Egypt 2-1 in the final.
Belgian coach Hugo Broos, the architect of the continental triumph, says he is rebuilding before Cameroon host the 2019 Cup of Nations, and has pleaded for patience.
He will take hope from the performance of Fabrice Ondoa in the draw in Zambia as the Spain-based goalkeeper made a string of excellent saves in both halves.
Zambia coach Wedson Nyirenda must have been encouraged by the form of 19-year-old Daka, a member of the team that won the Africa U-20 Cup of Nations this year.
The next competitive outings for the countries are Cup of Nations qualifiers in March when Zambia visits Namibia and Cameroon are away to the Comoros.
Although Cameroon qualify automatically for the 2019 tournament as hosts, they are playing in the qualifying competition to gain match practice.
Senegal on Friday became the third African nation to secure a place at next year’s finals as English Premier League pair Diafra Sakho and Sadio Mane played key roles in a 2-0 win over South Africa in Polokwane.
Gabon and Mali drawing 0-0 in eastern town Franceville in a Group C dead rubber was predictable as the countries have two of the three worst scoring records in the groups.
The Gabonese, who lacked star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, scored twice goals in one mini-league match and none in the other five.
Mali were even worse, going 522 minutes without a goal after scoring 18 minutes into their first match.
Morocco hold a one-point advantage over the Ivory Coast ahead of the group decider in Abidjan later on Saturday.
The Ivorians are seeking a fourth consecutive qualification while the Moroccans have not been to the finals since 1998.