Afcon 2021: Cameroon reflect on semi-final exit on penalties against Egypt

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Harold Moukoudi and Clinton N'Jie react to their penalty missesCameroon failed to convert three of their four penalties against Egypt

Cameroon coach Toni Conceicao has described their semi-final penalty shoot-out defeat at the Africa Cup of Nations as the "harsh reality of sport".

A lack of team-work, bad luck and poor technique from 12 yards have all been cited as reasons for their exit, along with credit for the North Africans' defensive display.

The hosts, who were hoping to move a step closer to a sixth continental title, will instead face Burkina Faso in the third/fourth place play-off on Saturday (19:00 GMT).

"The goal was to win this trophy, unfortunately we failed," goalkeeper Andre Onana said.

"It's hard when you see the way we failed because I think we were better than them. We created more chances, but unfortunately we didn't score - and when you don't score you can be in difficult situation.

"But football is strange, sometimes you don't play well and you go through, and when you play good you go out."

Conceicao said his side "suffered fatigue" as the game wore on.

"My team tried, but Egypt managed to control our offensive abilities and countered them," the Portuguese added.

"That's why we were forced to penalties."

Meanwhile, captain Vincent Aboubakar believes a lack of team ethic against Egypt cost his side.

"In football, you reap what you sow. We have a big team and every time we play as a team, we win," the striker said.

"In this game, everyone wanted to show what he was capable of and here is the pay off. Whenever we are collectively strong, we win but the moment everyone tries to do what they want, we miss out."

'Sloppy' technique and pressure in shoot-out

Cameroon missed three of their four spot-kicks in the shoot-out, with Egypt keeper Gabaski saving from Harold Moukoudi and James Lea Siliki, before Clinton N'Jie side-footed wide when needing to score.

The Pharaohs netted all three of their penalties to triumph.

Centre-back Moukoudi and forward N'Jie both took short run-ups for their attempts, and former Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure described Moukoudi's effort as "sloppy".

"His timing was wrong, his run-up was short," Toure said on BBC Three.

"It seems to me like Cameroon did not prepare for penalties.

"When I was with Ivory Coast, after each session we had a training shoot-out. It did not look like they had done that.

"As soon as they missed one, there was pressure and more pressure. And you see with N'Jie, I don't know what was going through his head."

However, Conceicao insisted that every Cameroon player practiced penalties after every training session, whether at the Nations Cup or not, and that players reacted differently in front of a crowd.

Ex-Nigeria striker Efan Ekoku said Cameroon's players had "failed to deliver" in the shoot-out, while former Cameroon right-back Lauren believed their takers lacked experience.

"The players that missed their penalties are young lads," Lauren, 45, added.

"You see the centre-back, with his head down. He was facing the ball straight and his body language told you he was going to miss.

"Maybe players that had more experience should have stepped up and not leave it to the youngsters."

Cameroon 'must analyse what went wrong'

Vincent Aboubakar and Toni Conceicao in conversationCameroon coach Toni Conceicao (right) will need to re-motivate his side swiftly

As the fall-out from their exit at the hands of Egypt continues, Cameroon will have to move on quickly from the events at the Olembe Stadium.

The central Africans face Algeria in a two-legged play-off in March for a spot at the 2022 World Cup.

"We have big games soon, against Burkina Faso and then against Algeria, and we have to be focused on that and forget about this result," midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa said.

Sebastien Bassong, another former Cameroon international, described their defeat on penalties as "heart-breaking".

"The Egyptian side were on a mission and were really composed," the 35-year-old former Tottenham and Norwich defender told the BBC World Service.

"Defensively, they had a game-plan and knew what to expect. They executed their plan and delivered.

"There is going to be a lot of frustration, especially when you get knocked out on penalties. They will get some grief.

"They need to analyse what went wrong and take ownership of the situation. No pain lasts forever and they will bounce back at some point."

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