LIBREVILLE (Reuters) - The African Nations Cup will provide more intense competition than at the World Cup as there are no weak teams in Gabon, Cameroon coach Hugo Broos said on Friday.
“I was a player at the World Cup but this is more intense than that. It is something special. This is Africa,” said the former Belgian international who was a member of the team which finished fourth in Mexico in 1986.
“In Europe there are a lot of international games where there is a six or seven goal gap between the teams but in the seven games I have had as Cameroon coach, I’ve seen there is hardly any difference between the teams.
“Here there are 16 teams who can win the Nations Cup and that makes it a very difficult assignment,” he added on the eve of Cameroon’s opening Group A match against Burkina Faso.
They play after the opening game between the hosts and newcomers Guinea Bissau at the Stade l’Amitie in the Gabonese capital.
“This is the error that Cameroon have made over the last years, they are still speaking about 20 years ago when they went on the field and scored twice in the first half and had the games sewn up. But it is no longer easy to win in Africa, even against the supposedly smaller teams.
“The history of the Nations Cup always throws up surprises. There is no game you go into with the feeling you can win it.”
Cameroon will also meet Guinea Bissau and Gabon in the first round as they seek their fifth Nations Cup title, and first since 2002.
“We want to get the quarter-finals and then we’ll see what we can do from there,” he added.
The team was hit by the withdrawal of several key players on the eve of the tournament but Broos said he did not want to be distracted by those who chose to stay with their clubs rather than travel to Gabon.
“If you cry about those who are not here you are not exactly giving any confidence to the players who are taking their place," he said.
"My team is ready, we’ve prepared well. I know they are an ambitious group and seeking to restore the history that Cameroon had in this competition before.”
Editing by Pritha Sarkar