Expect a tough, physical game - Cameroun legend Bell cautions Ghana

BY: Maurice Quansah, Oyem-Gabon
Antoine Bell
Antoine Bell

Cameroun football legend Joseph-Antoine Bell has cautioned Ghana’s Black Stars to expect a very physical game when they play the Indomitable Lions of Cameroun in their semi-final clash of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament at the Stade de Franceville tomorrow evening.

Bell, a former goalkeeper, who played at several AFCON tournaments and three World Cups for his country, told the Graphic Sports in an interview that the semi-final pairings were balanced and hard to predict, but expected the Ghana-Cameroun clash to be very tough though he considered the Stars to be slightly ahead.

“It might be a very physical game with a lot of contact and the Black Stars have to be prepared for it. “We saw against DR Congo that they could not possession the ball and fight because surprisingly, the Leopards took the ball from them and Ghana kept running and chasing the ball.

“It means they can face Cameroun who have the same physical and massive players,” said Bell, who won the 1984 and 1988 AFCON titles with the Indomitable Lions.

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The 62-year-old, one of Africa’s greatest ever goalkeepers of his generation and who enjoyed his best playing moments for French sides Olympique Marseille, Toulon, Bordeaux and Saint-Etienne, is in Gabon as a pundit for Radio France international (RFI).

He said based on his assessment of the Camerounian team at the tournament so far, he expected Avram Grant’s team to dominate possession in tomorrow’s game despite the Ghanaians not having been as impressive as they are known for.

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“When Cameroun play Ghana, I’m not sure they’ll dominate possession because people saw them as a good side when they didn’t have the ball and tried to stop Senegal, the stronger side, to achieve a surprising result.”

The man who spent 17 years with the Lions in his heyday, is confident Ghana would have a slight advantage in the match by dominating possession, but cautioned them not to underestimate his compatriots who also know how to achieve good results without being dominant in games.

“Ghana will win the ball surely and maybe if they don’t make the difference with the ball they may suffer for it.”

“We’re going to have two balanced teams, but you can’t say who is going to win because though Ghana qualified, we are yet to see a very fluid and brilliant Black Stars side so far.”

He also Ghana’s quarter-final victory against DR Congo was indicative that the team had what it takes to grind out good results without being the dominant side.

Bell said he also expected Burkina Faso to come out strongly against Egypt, the most successful side in AFCON history, when the two teams clash in the first semi-final match in Libreville this evening.

“Burkina Faso are just going to show that they want to have the ball and dominate play. We didn’t expect them to dominate against Tunisia, but they came mentally strong and took the ball from Tunisia and showed they are not afraid of them which is not easy.

“This match might produce another surprise if they could do a similar thing against Egypt. But Egypt have played four matches without having the ball – and they don’t mind having the ball – but still get the results. It could be exactly what Egypt would be expecting. This is a strong side that hasn’t conceded a goal in four matches.”