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Nouhou shines in AFCON debut

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Nouhou is one of Cameroon’s top players in tournament opener.

Cameroon v Burkina Faso- Africa Cup of Nations Photo by Ulrik Pedersen/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Preseason starts soon for the Seattle Sounders, but several players will be away on international duty to kick things off. Only one of those players is in action right now, though, and that’s Nouhou. Cameroon are hosting the Africa Cup of Nations, and Nouhou’s got his hands on the starting left back spot. In the opening game the hosts faced Burkina Faso and Nouhou played a major role on the way to a 2-1 win.

Cameroon had to come back from 1-0, but the deficit was erased in the final five minutes of the first half and Nouhou was involved — in one way or another — in both goals. Both goals came through penalties, the first of which was rewarded after a video review of an incident that occurred during a corner kick. That corner was won by our beloved Nouhou after a genuinely great piece of play. Nouhou picked up a loose ball and knocked it past one opponent, then skipped over a sliding challenge from another on his way to the end line. Nouhou sized up his options with a penalty area full of Burkina Faso players and then hit a ball directly into a defender, earning a corner.

At the end of the half, Nouhou ran onto a cross and headed it forward before bursting into the penalty area. He took a bad touch as he entered the area, but a late challenge from a defender absolved him of any mistakes as he was brought down. Nouhou had plenty more good moments throughout the game, but nearly iced the whole performance off with a chance at a goal with the final touch of the game. Cameroon had a break and Nouhou was running in behind the Burkina Faso defense with no one to beat but the goalkeeper. He received a perfectly placed cross as he reached the top of the box, but opted for a first-timed shot that he shanked as the clock wound down.

It’s easy to think that praise for Nouhou’s performance is seeing the game with Rave Green-colored glasses, but FotMob gave him an 8.7/10 rating, the second-highest rating of the game and the third-highest of the tournament so far. He put up some quality defensive numbers with four clearances, eight recoveries, won three tackles and 14 successful duels. It wasn’t just his defensive performance that shined, though. In addition to his contributions leading to the penalties, Nouhou had four successful dribbles — a 100% success rate — and was fouled six times.

Cameroon play next on Thursday at 8 AM against Ethiopia, who lost their opening game to Cape Verde after going down to 10 men. The game should be another opportunity for Nouhou and his country to shine in the continent’s largest competition. AFCON is a blast, and Nouhou was made for the tournament.