Cameroon close to missing Cup of Nations

A last-minute penalty miss by Samuel Eto’o left Cameroon with

little hope of playing in the 2012 African Cup of Nations following

a 0-0 home draw with Senegal on Saturday.

The Cameroon captain’s injury-time spot-kick hit the crossbar,

denying the four-time African champion a precious victory in its

fading campaign.

Elsewhere, Uganda and Burkina Faso closed in on next year’s

African championship after both teams secured solid victories.

Uganda beat Guinea-Bissau 2-0 to edge closer to its first Cup of

Nations since 1978, when it lost in the final. Burkina Faso stayed

on course for Gabon and Equatorial Guinea with a 4-1 hammering of

Namibia.

Morocco routed north African rival Algeria 4-0 in the most

one-sided of the continent’s six qualifiers on Saturday.

Goals from Mehdi Benatia and Marouane Chamakh in the first half

and Yousouff Hadji and Oussama Assaidi after the break broke open

Group D for the Moroccans. All four teams had been locked on four

points before the match.

Also, Zambia beat Mozambique 3-0 and Sierra Leone edged Niger

1-0 to give it an outside chance of qualifying in a group

containing heavyweights South Africa and Egypt.

On Friday, midfielder Michael Essien made his first

international appearance since January 2010 as Ghana stayed

unbeaten in four games with a 3-1 win over Republic of Congo.

A desperate Cameroon is five points behind Group E leader

Senegal and automatic passage to the Cup of Nations with just two

games to play after another disappointing result for the

Indomitable Lions, who have won just one of four qualifiers. Fans

protested against the team after the match and had to be dispersed

by police.

Cameroon dominated in Yaounde but couldn’t beat Senegal

goalkeeper Bouna Coulibaly and Eto’o’s late miss put one of African

football’s powerhouses on the brink of missing the continent’s top

tournament for just the second time in 30 years.

”We are in a very unfortunate position,” said midfielder

Stephane Mbia, with Cameroon now needing to win both of its final

qualifiers – against Mauritius and Congo – and hope other results

go its way to claim an unlikely automatic place.

It is also well off the pace in the race for one of the two best

second-place spots in the 11-group qualifying competition.

Police used water cannons outside Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium to

disperse over a thousand disgruntled supporters after they

prevented the Cameroon team bus from leaving the ground, blaming

captain Eto’o for the team’s struggles.

Uganda opened a six-point lead in Group J with goals from

Godfrey Walusimbi in the 36th minute and Geoffrey Massa in the 56th

at Mandela Stadium in Kampala. The Cranes are still to concede a

goal in qualifying to control the group ahead of Kenya, which plays

away at Angola on Sunday.

”It was a difficult match but the boys kept their composure and

scored at the right time,” Uganda’s Scottish coach Bobby

Williamson said.

After its hammering of the home team in Namibia, Burkina Faso

needs just a point from its final match against Gambia to qualify

from the three-team Group F. It’s place could be sealed before

that, if Gambia fails to beat the Namibians in September.

Zambia moved to the top of Group C ahead of Libya’s meeting with

Comoros after a brace from Chris Katongo and a goal from Collins

Mbesuma capped a rampant second-half display at home to

Mozambique.

Top-ranked African team Ghana was 2-0 up through second-half

goals by Isaac Vorsah and Prince Tagoe by the time Essien was

substituted in his first international in 16 months on Friday.

Matt Moussilou pulled one back for the 10-men Congolese before

Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu’s long-range shot made it 3-1 to the 2010

African Cup finalist and World Cup quarterfinalist.

”It was a great second half performance,” Ghana coach Goran

Stevanovic said. ”I am satisfied.”

Ghana is three points clear of Sudan in Group I, having played a

game more.

AP writer Emmanuel Tumanjong in Yaounde, Cameroon contributed to

this report.

Gerald Imray can be reached at

http://twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP