Onana saves penalty as Cameroon win WC qualifier

Vincent Aboubakar scored twice as Cameroon put weeks of turmoil around their national team behind them to beat the Cape Verde Islands 4-1 in a World Cup qualifier in Yaounde on Saturday.

The win, which also saw André Onana save a stoppage-time penalty from Kevin Pina, moved Cameroon level with Libya at the top of Group D on seven points from three matches.

In Saturday’s other qualifier in Africa, Gambia hammered the Seychelles 5-1 in Group F, a winning start for their new Irish coach Johnny McKinstry.

Centre back Michael Ngadeu marked his return to the team after a two-year absence to put Cameroon into a 13th-minute lead, rising to power home Nicolas Ngamaleu’s corner.

The left winger also provided the assist for a second goal 12 minutes later with a cross that Aboubakar turned into the net from close range as the defence backed off.

Jamiro Monteiro pulled back a goal in the 37th minute, running in behind the home defence and getting on to the ball before goalkeeper Onana.

But a foul on Ngamaleu three minutes later by Deroy Duarte gave Cameroon a penalty that Aboubakar converted to restore their two-goal lead.

Cameroon went 4-1 up when a 54th-minute cross was headed forward by Ngadeu and finished off by Nouhou Tolo.

They have been to more World Cups than any other African country but their bid for a ninth appearance in North America in 2026 threatened to be derailed by a spat between the country’s football federation and sports ministry.

The government, which pays the coach’s salary, named Belgian Marc Brys as coach in April to the disappointment of federation president Samuel Eto’o who was not consulted on the matter.

He at first rejected Brys, then bowed to political pressure to accept the appointment but wanted his own choices added to the technical team. It took several weeks of posturing and power plays, including denying the team equipment to train with, before a compromise was reached.

Seychelles, who are Africa’s smallest country and have never won a World Cup qualifier, were holding Gambia to a 1-1 stalemate at half-time in Berkane, Morocco, where Gambia had to move their home match because they do not have a suitable stadium in their country.

Four unanswered goals in the second half, however, saw Gambia record their first win of the campaign. Muhammad Badamossi scored twice and there was also a goal for the 19-year-old Yankuba Minteh, who has been linked with a move to Liverpool.

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