Cameroon and Ghana, two of the most successful teams in Africa Cup of Nations history with nine titles between them, cancelled each other out in a forgettable 0-0 draw in their Group F match on Saturday.
Ghana nearly snatched the points in the 88th minute when Kwabena Owusu intercepted a dreadful Jean Armel Kana Biyik pass, charged forward and fired a ferocious shot against the bar.
But that would have been an unfittingly generous end to a match which featured too many misplaced passes, poor first touches and wayward finishing on another searing evening at the Ismailia stadium – while there were some unusual decisions from the referee.
Ghana defender Jonathan Mensah was one of the few players to distinguish himself, making three key interventions to prevent a Cameroon goal.
Holders Cameroon top the group with four points from two games while Ghana have two points after drawing both their matches.
“It may not have been good for the fans, but speaking as a coach, knowing what I have seen, I have seen two very organised teams who created enough to win,” said Cameroon coach Clarence Seedorf.
Kasim Nuhu wasted an excellent early chance for Ghana by side-footing over from 12 metres and Christian Atsu fired a low shot narrowly wide but injured his hamstring in the process and was replaced by Samuel Owusu.
It was generally a scrappy opening, summed up by a Christian Bassogog effort where he sent the simplest of short passes straight into touch.
There was also an odd incident where the ball hit the referee and rebounded to Cameroon. The official then stopped play, gave the ball to Ghana and invited them to play on.
He also let a number of strong tackles go unpunished, showing one yellow card for 28 fouls.
Mensah made his first intervention with a timely last-ditch tackle on Karl Toko Ekambi as the Cameroon player got away and was about to pull the trigger. Bassogog also had a good chance but it was palmed away by Richard Ofori.
There was little improvement in the second half although Mensah again came to Ghana’s rescue when he managed to get his head to Collins Fai’s cross and nick it away from the lurking Clinton Njie.
Mensah followed that up by stopping a goalbound Bassogog volley.
There was a flurry of action towards the end including Owusu’s effort against the bar, raising the question as to why the teams did not push forward earlier.
“We never start a match to draw, we start to win,” said Seedorf. “There are ways and ways to win a match. I am satisfied with a point.”