Senegal vs Cameroon: Match preview and prediction
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Senegal vs Cameroon: Match preview and prediction
By Mangek Promise

Defending champions Senegal look to lock in a knockout stage spot as they meet fellow continental powers Cameroon in the second Group C match at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

The Lions of Teranga dispatched Gambia with ease in their opener, as star forward Sadio Mane pulled the strings in a 3-0 win. After finding themselves up a goal just four minutes in, Senegal took advantage of a man advantage just before halftime en route to the comfortable victory.

It leaves Senegal knowing that three points here would mathematically confirm a spot in the knockout stage, and coupled with Guinea dropping points against Gambia, could see them already secured as group winners with a match still to go.

Much of Cameroon's fortunes in this match, and the tournament as a whole, will hinge on the fitness of star striker Vincent Aboubakar, who missed their opener against Guinea with a groin injury and is unlikely to participate in this game as well. Aboubakar won the Golden Boot in AFCON 2021, and was sorely missed as Cameroon failed to win even as they played half the match with a man advantage.

While Cameroon struggled to break down 10-man Guinea in their opener, Senegal romped to victory with ease over their man-down opponent Gambia. The defending champions won't find nearly as much attacking joy in this match unless Cameroon also find themselves at a numerical disadvantage, but Senegal should have enough to overmatch their opponents who have struggled mightily to finish chances of late.

Once Sadio Mane assisted Pape Gueye's opener four minutes into the match, Senegal would cruise to victory over Gambia in their opener. The former Liverpool and Bayern Munich forward wasn't much needed after that, failing to have a single shot all match as he let his teammates shine.

Yet in matches against opponents of this caliber, Mane will be a far more influential presence. While he's struggling for minutes and goal mouth action at the club level, Mane is clearly still a top player, and after leading his national side to 2021 glory, they'll need him to once again be a major player up front if they wish to repeat.

Mane bagged the only goal in the last meeting between these two sides, a 1-0 friendly win for Senegal back in October, and followed that up with a brace in World Cup qualifying against South Sudan in November. He's critical to this Senegal side, and will prove as such here.

Cameroon's failures against Guinea in the opener laid bare their desperate need for a striker who can cause problems for defenders off the ball. With Vincent Aboubakar injured, Karl Toko Ekambi was invisible, touching the ball just four times in the opponent's penalty area and managing just two shots, despite Guinea playing the entire second half a man down.

Georges-Kevin N'Koudou was brilliant and did his best to create numerous chances for his teammates, but there was nobody with a cutting edge on the end of the opportunities. Against Senegal, there will be very little room to operate — the Lions of Teranga have conceded just three goals across their last seven competitive matches, which balloons to four goals in 13 matches if you include the less heralded CHAN tournament in 2023.

Pick 1: Senegal to win

Pick 2: Over 2.5 goals