YAOUNDE: The return of Samuel Eto’o was not enough to prevent Cameroon missing out for the second successive time and year on a place at the finals of the African Nations Cup.
The finals are being staged in South Africa early in 2013 as the African confederation moves the event out of the World Cup cycle. The last finals were hosted this past January and February in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
Cameroon were not present then either, their qualifying failure prompting a war of words between a dissatisfied Eto’o – who plays his club football in Russia with Anzhi of southern Dagestan – and the Cameroon federation.
Eto’o was handed an eight-month which was rescinded this summer but he refused to play in the first leg of the decisive qualifying tie against Cape Verde which Cameroon lost 2-0.
Finally he returned at the weekend for the second, home, leg but even his presence was insufficient inspiration.Cameroonwon 2-1 but lost 3-2 on aggregate.
The visitors took an early lead through Antonio Pereira. Achille Emana equalised and Fabrice Olinga scored a late, insufficient, winner from an Eto’o cross.
Despite defeat Jean-Paul Akono, in charge of Cameroonfor the first time after Denis Lavange’s dismissal, said: “I must congratulate my boys. The Lions have played the way they could, unfortunately they lost. But it’s important to wish the Cape Verde team good luck.”
Cape Verdethus qualified for the finals for the first time. Cameroon will be absent twice in a row for the first time in more than 30 years.
ElsewhereEthiopia, African champions 50 years ago, reached the finals for the first time in 30 years whileTogoovercameGabonto qualify for the first time since the gun attack on their team bus in Angola 2010.
Burkina FasobeatCentral African Republic3-1 for a 3-2 aggregate success thanks to a decisive last goal in the sixth minute of stoppage time.
Also qualifying on Sunday were Angola (against Zimbabwe), Niger (against Guinea), Congo (against Equatorial Guinea) and Algeria (against Libya). Saturday saw finals places secured for Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria andTunisia.
Champions Zambiawill also be defending their crown but only after edging out Uganda in a penalty shootout.
The finals kick off on January 19 in Johannesburg at the FNB Stadium with the final scheduled for the former Soccer City on February 10.
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