Burkina Faso fought back to secure a 1-1 draw with Cameroon on the opening day of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
Cameroon took the lead on 35 minutes when Benjamin Moukandjo superbly curled a free-kick into the left corner.
Both sides created good chances, with one of the clearest falling to Clinton N’Jie who shot wide from six yards.
The Burkinabe took full advantage when goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa could only parry a free-kick and Issoufou Dayo nodded in the leveller.
Cameroon had been given numerous warnings as the Burkinabe repeatedly threatened from set-pieces – and the Indomitable Lions will also rue their inability to finish their opponents off when they had their own chances.
In contrast to the earlier Group A game between hosts Gabon and Guinea-Bisau, which was also played in Libreville’s Stade de l’Amitie, this match had plenty of action.
Ondoa saved well from Prejuce Nakoulma’s near-post poke and Bakary Kone fired the rebound wide. Kone later had the ball nicked away from his head when he looked set to score, while Nakoulma was also denied a second time, by Ondoa’s athleticism.
At the other end, N’Jie forced a smart, low save from Burkinabe keeper Herve Koffi, who later surged out of his penalty area and produced a stunning tackle with an outstretched leg to stop a clean-through Christian Bassogog.
N’Jie, on loan at Marseille from Tottenham, was guilty of the worst miss of the match after he collected the rebound from a fierce long-range shot by Jacques Zoua and shot wide with the goal gaping.
As Cameroon’s ill-discipline presented the Burkinabe with more and more free-kicks, there was a growing sense that would do well to to see out the victory.
And so it proved when Dayo finally putting the finishing touch to a set-piece.
Cameroon’s missing parts
Cameroon arrived at the tournament without eight players who rejected the call-up. One of those absent is Liverpool defender Joel Matip and it looks like he will be sorely missed.
A lack of organisation, discipline and decisiveness in defence cost the Indomitable Lions an opening-match victory.
They might have got away with it had they taken their opportunities in front of goal. So there is work to do at both ends of the pitch.
Stallions harness power
Burkina Faso were happy to stand and trade blows with Cameroon, even though at times they left themselves open to a knockout punch – especially on the counter-attack.
They showed their physical presence at free-kicks and that will prove a threat to any team. But star man Bertrand Traore had a sloppy game, giving the ball away more than he would have liked, and can do more to assert himself on the game.
But avoiding defeat will be a big confidence booster.