The Day 1 action continues at the Cairo International Stadium after the opening game, when Cameroon takes on Ghana in the Group A second match. It will be a battle of newcomers as both sides are having their debut in the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations this year.
Cameroon, who missed qualifying to the Olympics since their third and last to date appearance in Beijing 2008, are holding the enviable record of being one of two African teams to go all the way for the Olympic Gold. After Nigeria (Atlanta 1996), Cameroon were Olympic Champions in Sydney 2000 when the likes of Samuel Eto’o, Lauren Etame-Mayer, Geremi Njitap and Patrick M’boma returned home with gold medals around their necks.
Meanwhile Ghana whose last Olympics appearance dates back to Athens 2004 were the first ever African country to go to the podium in Olympic Football. In Barcelona 1992 Ghana’s Black Meteors finished third to claim bronze medals, with a team that included among others Maxwell Konadu, Frank Amankwah, Nii Lamptey, Samuel Osei Kuffour and Yaw Preko.
And on Friday, there will be two more famous figures on the sidelines. Rigobert Song is coaching Cameroon after a brilliant career that saw him donning Les Lions Indomptables shirt 137 times (a national record), and won two AFCON titles in record seven appearances.
His counterpart, Ibrahim Tanko might not had the same national reputation, but still he is one of the African footballers who held the UEFA Champions League trophy. Tanko was among the ranks of Borussia Dortmund when the German side won the prestigious title in 1996-97.
Song will be relying on the United States based defenders Nouhou Tolo and Olivier Mbaizo, striker Erik Ayuk and skipper Samuel Gouet. Meanwhile Tanko will be waiting for midfielders Yao Yeboah, Samuel Obeng and strikers Owusu Kwabena and Robin Polley to deliver.
Friday 8 November 2019
Cameroon v Ghana – Cairo International Stadium (22:00 local time, 20:00 GMT)
What they said
Rigobert Song (Coach, Cameroon)
Being here is a great chance for us but what we care about is to continue what we already started. Every team here has a decent chance because they are all very strong sides. Football is about challenges. Facing my former coach is also a big challenge for me and I want to prove I’m up to it. We didn’t have enough preparations but we will try and give our best.
Samuel Oum Gouet (Captain, Cameroon)
I’m happy to be here and will do my best for the team. It’s not just Ghana but we have also to play against Egypt and Mali and the group is very tough. But I always speak with my teammates that we have to achieve our dream and qualify to the Olympics.
Ibrahim Tanko (Coach, Ghana)
We came here to qualify for the Olympics, and also to win the trophy. We suffered lack of competitive games back home and it was difficult to assemble our players but we tried to make a mixture between local and foreign based players. Our strategy is to go and try to win every game. I worked with Cameroon for two years so I know them very well. We need to be in good shape because all the teams here are very good. Our target is a ticket for the Olympics.
Edward Sarpong (Defender, Ghana)
We are ready to give our best. This is a very big platform for me and my colleagues and we will try as hard as possible to reach the furthest point we can reach.