The first places in the round of 16 can be secured by Cameroon and Cape Verde in Yaoundé on Thursday if they defeat Ethiopia and Burkina Faso, respectively.
Africa Cup of Nations hosts, Cameroon, will play their second group game against Ethiopia as the Indomitable Lions seek to increase their three points tally.
Cameroon won their first group game on Sunday against Burkina Faso after captain Vincent Aboubakar scored twice from the spot to hand his side that conceded an early goal the much needed victory.
At a pre-match press conference in Yaoundé Wednesday, both sides sounded confident ahead of the second Group ‘A’ game, promising to do their best to grab the three points.
Coach Antonio Conceicao of Cameroon said there will be no big changes to the squad that beat Burkina Faso 2-1 in their first game and they are going for nothing short of a victory.
Cameroon are 50th on Fifa global rankings, 87 places ahead of Ethiopia and seventh in Africa, 32 places ahead the Walya Antelopes.
Thus, on paper, the Indomitable Lions are far stronger, but the coach does not want to take chances.
“Ethiopia can be a less stronger team but can cause a lot of surprises and we need to be vigilant…we need to win (the game against Ethiopia),” Conceicao said.
Midfielder, Samuel Oum Gwet said though they won the first game, no two matches are the same, but they are determined to win the second game.
“We will play with the objective of winning. We will play with same fighting spirit of first game…a goal is a goal. It doesn’t matter whether you score by penalty or not,” Gwet said at the press conference.
Though they lost in their opening Group A game against the Cape Verde Islands, Ethiopia are determined to play differently against Cameroon and avoid fouls that can earn them a red card against Cameroon.
Ethiopia coach Wubetu Abate’s side are seeking to pick up three points as they look to make it to the knock-out stages for the first time since 1968.
But the coach admits that it will not be an easy task to beat Cameroon “who are strong and enjoy home support”.
“We know that Cameroon has a strong squad,” Abate said at a pre-match press conference in Yaounde on Wednesday.
He said his side is determined to emerge victorious, but should they not, it will not also mean hopes are lost.
“Losing against Cameroon is not losing everything for we still have another match against Burkina Faso ahead,” the coach said.
The Ethiopians, who are 137th in Fifa rankings and 39th in Africa, will be playing without defender Yared Baye, who was sent off the green turf with a red card after just 12 minutes into the first group game.
Coach Abate blamed the opening group match defeat partly on the fact that they were under pressure playing 10 against 11.
“When you lose one player early like was the case with the game against Cape Verde, it affects the game,” the coach said.
The match will be played at the 60,000-seater Olembe Stadium in Yaoundé from 7pm (Kenyan time) and will be the first of two matches for the day as Cape Verde will face Burkina Faso in a second group fixture.