Substitute Achille Webo set up two goals as Cameroon snatched a 2-2 draw against Tunisia to scrape into the African Nations Cup quarter-finals last night. Webo, who came on as a second-half replacement for Jean Makoun, provided Samuel Eto'o and Landry Nguemo with perfect back passes as Cameroon twice fought back to advance from Group D.
They will take on Egypt, Group C winners, in the quarter-finals. Tunisia, eliminated after drawing their three games, had gone ahead in the first minute through Amine Chermiti and again in the 63rd when defender Aurelien Chedjou netted into his own goal. Zambia also progressed after beating Gabon 2-1. Remarkably they finished as group winners despite entering their final game bottom of the standings.
Cameroon, who needed at least a point to ensure qualification from Group D, fell behind after just 57 seconds thanks to a fine diving header from Chermiti. After a quick exchange of passes in midfield, the ball was whipped in by Khaled Souissi from the right and Chermiti glanced home. The Tunisians had another good chance two minutes later when Yassin Mikari's free-kick forced Carlos Kameni to turn the ball away for a corner.
Cameroon searched desperately for an equaliser, but struggled to carve out any real openings. Things began to boil over a little as captains Karim Haggui and Eto'o confronted each other after an unfair challenge from the former on forward Mohammadou Idrissou. Tensions were further heightened when the Tunisia keeper Aymen Mathlouthi handled the ball outside the penalty area to cut out an Eto'o shot just short of the half-hour mark.
The referee saw it as only a yellow-card offence and the ensuing 20-yard free-kick from the Inter Milan striker went wide. Paul Le Guen's side continued to camp in the Tunisian half, but their attacking intent was almost exposed when a fine breakaway between Mikari and Hocine Ragued saw the Sochaux defender send the final shot into the side netting from 10 yards out. It remained 1-0 at the break and the agitated Indomitable Lions boss had seen enough, bringing in another attacker in Webo to replace Jean Makoun.
It proved an inspired change as Idrissou beat the off-side trap to play in the Mallorca forward, whose cut-back was expertly met by Eto'o inside the six-yard box and he finished via an upright. The chances continued to flow, with Eto'o missing a free header from a Webo cross, before Tunisia coach Faouzi Benzarti responded by throwing on Chaouki Ben Saada. It was another masterstroke as the Nice midfielder's hopeful cross was met by a header from Chedjou that looped over Kameni into his own goal.
That was in the 63rd minute and it took less than 90 seconds for the Cameroonians to respond - Webo teeing up N'Guemo on the edge of the area and the Celtic midfielder blasting home the finish. The goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of the Tunisians and to make matters worse, Ammar Jemal was sent off in the closing stages after receiving a second yellow card for an unnecessary push on Idrissou as the north Africans bowed out.
Zambia weathered a late rally by Gabon to secure a 2-1 win. Zambia's Rainford Kalaba slid a neat shot past goalkeeper Didier Evono to open the scoring in the 28th minute and James Chamanga made it 2-0 with a simple tap-in just after the hour. A goal seven minutes from the end by Gabon substitute Fabrice do Marcelino set up an exciting finish, but it was too late for Gabon.
Fredi Kanoute has retired from international football following Mali's exit from the competiton. The Sevilla striker, who scored 23 goals in 38 appearances since his debut in 2004, confirmed his decision after Mali beat Malawi 3-1 - a victory that was meaningless as the Eagles bowed out of the competition. Kanoute, 32, scored twice in Angola - in the 4-4 draw against the hosts in the opening game and in the win over the Flames - and was already back in Spain yesterday. Joseph Yobo has been ruled out of the rest of the tournament because of a hamstring injury. The Everton defender suffered a recurrence of the problem, which has plagued him this season, when Nigeria beat Benin in a Group C encounter at the weekend. * Agencies
Quarter-finals: 24 Jan - (QF1) Angola v Ghana 24 Jan - (QF2) Ivory Coast v Algeria 25 Jan - (QF3) Egypt v Cameroon 25 Jan - (QF4) Zambia v Nigeria Semi-finals: 28 Jan - (SF1) Winner QF1 v QF4 28 Jan - (SF2) Winner QF2 v QF3 Third place play-off 30 Jan - Loser SF1 v Loser SF2 Final 31 Jan - Winner SF1 v Winner SF2