Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2021: It will be a difficult journey for Cameroon if ‘we don’t reach the final’ – Conceicao

8:31 AM WAT 06/01/2022
Toni Conceicao
The 60-year-old Portuguese tactician warns what awaits them if the Indomitable Lions fail to reach the final of the continental competition

Cameroon coach Toni Conceicao has admitted they will be labelled as failures if they don’t reach the final of the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Indomitable Lions will be seeking to win the trophy on home soil and have been pooled in Group A alongside Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, and Ethiopia.

The 60-year-old Portuguese tactician has admitted the weight of public pressure is on him as his side and believes reaching the final should be their main objective if they cannot win it.

"We know that Cameroonians have high hopes because the competition is taking place here,” Conceicao said as quoted by BBC Sports Africa.

“Since the moment it was decided that Afcon would be hosted in Cameroon, every Cameroonian has felt that this will give them the advantage to win the trophy. But for us football professionals we know it doesn't work that way.

“We feel that people are more demanding of the Indomitable Lions because of their history and what they've accomplished in the past: five African titles and the seven times they've been present in the World Cup.

“I hope to win because if we don't reach the objective of at least reaching the final, it's going to be a difficult journey. We have to be mentally strong so we can at least reach the final.

“If we don't, it will be difficult for us, the technical staff, to deal with the criticism, because people here don’t forgive failure.”

On Cameroon’s group and facing Burkina Faso in the tournament’s opener, Conceicao said: “We’ve been watching a few of Burkina Faso’s games and they have a good team.

“Cape Verde have improved greatly and are ever-growing in experience and maturity. The opening game, whether it be at the World Cup, a championship in Cameroon, or a European Championship, is always difficult.

“From a historic point of view, people think Burkina Faso and Cameroon will get through, but I don't think like that. I will put my players on alert.”

Cameroon will face the Stallions in their opener on January 9 at Stade Omnisport Paul Biya, Olembe, battle the Walias on January 13 before winding up their group fixtures with a clash against the Island nation on January 17.