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Onana is the hero as Cameroon qualify for Cup of Nations finals

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A nervy Cameroon scored twice in the second half to beat Burundi 3-0 in Garoua on Tuesday and qualify for January’s Africa Cup of Nations finals, overcoming their plucky opponents as Andre Onana marked his return to the team with a series of key saves.

Cameroon had needed to win the game to ensure a place in the finals. Victory saw them finish top of three-team Group C and also ensured that Namibia would qualify with them while Burundi missed out.

Bryan Mbeumo took advantage of a defensive slip to score one minute into the second half before defender Christopher Wooh swept home the ball from close range for the second goal in the 59th minute.

Wooh had missed the header from a corner by Karl Toko Ekambi but it fell loose and he was quick to sweep it home.

A clearance that came off the back of a defender allowed captain Vincent Aboubakar to score the third goal deep in stoppage time.

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Burundi had needed only a draw and, despite their lowly ranking 98 places below the 42nd-ranked Indomitable Lions, came out the more positive team and Onana had to make several key stops to deny both Bonfils-Caleb Bimenyimana and Saidi Ntibazonzika.

Onana was making his return to the side after a fallout with coach Rigobert Song during the World Cup in Qatar last year which resulted in him being kicked out of their camp.

The new Manchester United goalkeeper showed his worth as Cameroon won for the first time since their 1-0 victory over Brazil in Qatar in their last group game in December.

With Group C settled, the field for the 24-team Cup of Nations finals in the Ivory Coast from Jan. 13-Feb. 11 next year is complete.

-Reuters

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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