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Soccer News of Friday, 8 February 2008

Source: Julien Pretot

Cameroon profit from strength in depth

ACCRA, Feb 8 - Cameroon were rewarded for the strength of their bench when they overcame hosts Ghana 1-0 in the African Nations Cup semi-final.

The Indomitable Lions held their nerve and a second-half goal by subsistute Alain Nkong was enough to send them into Sunday's final.

Since their 4-2 opening defeat by Egypt, whom they will meet again in the final, Cameroon have made several changes and were the freshest team.

"After the first defeat we made the changes we needed to get back in the tournament," Cameroon coach Otto Pfister told reporters.

"Look at Stephane Mbia. He was bad in the first game, then he did not start the second but he scored two in the quarter-final against Tunisia."

The German, who was appointed last October, added: "I can bring great players into the game off the bench. There is not much difference in the standard between the players.

"When other teams have injury problems, they usually complain about it. As far as I am concerned, it's okay."

Pfister, who hit out at the Ghana media, said it was impossible to win the Nations Cup with the same starting 11 throughout.

"The Ghana press, they were too confident, saying 'we will bring the Cup, we are the strongest. But you have to play football before that," he said.

"There is no such thing as a first-choice line-up. It's Africa. With the weather, the players just cannot play on and on. They need to rest," added Pfister, who has 25-years' experience in African football, coaching Zaire, Tunisia, Ghana, Egypt and Togo, whom he took to the 2006 World Cup finals.

"We took the upper hand physically. I made a first change with Joel Epalle to put the pressure on and 15 minutes later, I sent Alain Nkong to finish the job."

Cameroon believe they are now ready to avenge their first-round defeat by Egypt.

"Everybody had buried us but we are there, up and running," said Mbia.

Fellow midfielder Achille Emana added: "We are the Lions, that's one thing. But the other part of our nickname is 'Indomitable'. This must not be forgotten."