It will surely be an epic battle of the jungle at the ongoing 2024 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cote D'Ivoire as the Teranga Lions of Senegal square up against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in what could be described as the finals before the final.
While both familiar foes, the Teranga Lions of Senegal and Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, are facing each other for the fifth time at the AFCON, they have only met in the group stage once—a meeting that saw the Reigning Lions prevail over the former champions 2-0 during the 1990 AFCON.
However, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon boast the upper hand in the last three meetings at the knockout stages. In Senegal 1992, quarter-finals, the Indomitable Lions prevailed over Teranga 1-0. In the 2002 final, the Indomitable Lions secured a 3-2 penalty win after extra time, with the regulation time ending at 0-0. The 2017 quarter-finals also ended at 0-0, with the Indomitable Lions winning 5-4 in penalties.
One intriguing aspect is that both countries are almost even whenever they face each other. They have yet to produce more than a one-goal difference in wins, and both countries have only scored three goals in their four meetings at AFCON. This means they have been miserly with goals, with two encounters determined by extra time penalties.
In AFCON 2024, the Teranga Lions have had a blistering start to their title defense with a sweet 3-0 win over the Scorpions of Gambia, signaling their intent. They have won their opening AFCON game for the fifth consecutive edition, a joint-record alongside Nigeria between 1976 and 1984, and are looking to win their first two matches of an AFCON since 2017.
The Teranga Lions began their title defense on a high note and a clean sheet, thanks to Pape Gueye’s early opener and a brace from 20-year-old Lamine Camara. Camara set a record as the youngest Senegalese player to score a goal at the Africa Cup of Nations. The Teranga Lions have yet to taste defeat in eight AFCON games since the start of the last edition in 2022, scoring 12 goals and conceding just two.
For the defending champions, the Teranga Lions, they have yet to concede a single goal in their last five group stage games at the AFCON, winning three straight matches with two draws. They could keep another clean sheet, spanning six consecutive games in the competition for the first time.
On the other hand, Cameroon drew their first game against Guinea, and their iconic goalkeeper André Onana was missing in action. They allowed Frank Magri’s headed equalizer to be overturned by Guinea, marking the 23rd goal in a row for Cameroon at the AFCON.
Cameroon's Georges-Kévin Nkoudou, who created seven chances in the draw with Guinea, needs to step up to create more chances in the all-important clash against the Teranga Lions. For the Senegalese team, Sadio Mané and Ismaïla Sarr, with an assist each in their win over Gambia, will play key roles in securing the much-needed victory for Senegal.