James Lea Siliki made a second half appearance as Cameroon beat Comoros 2-1 in the Africa Cup of Nations, but the victory was overshadowed by tragic events outside the Paul Biya Stadium.
Cameroon went into Monday’s last 16 tie as firm favourites; not only are the five-times winners tournament hosts, but opponents Comoros - in their maiden AFCON tournament - were without a goalkeeper due to all three of the stoppers in their squad testing positive for COVID.
That meant defender Chaker Alhadhur taking up the gloves, and to make the challenge all the greater for the island minnows, captain Jimmy Abdou was shown a red card for a raking tackle just six minutes in.
Despite all this, Comoros made life tough for Cameroon, and makeshift stopper Alhadhur produced a series of fine saves. Goals from Karl Toko Ekambi and tournament top scorer Vincent Aboubakar eventually paved the way for Cameroon’s victory, though a superb free-kick from Youssouf M'Changama in the second half ensured a nervy finish.
Boro’s on-loan midfielder Lea Siliki came on with 77 minutes played - his third substitute appearance of the campaign - to help the Lions secure progress to the quarter-finals, where the are due to take on The Gambia on Saturday.
On what would have been a night of celebration across the country, the football was sadly overshadowed by events outside the stadium in the Olembe region of Yaounde, the Cameroonian capital.
According to reports, at least eight were killed and many more injured in a crush of supporters attempting to gain access to the Paul Biya Stadium. Both the Cameroonian government and the Confederation of African Football have launched investigations.
The deepest condolences of MFC are with all those affected by these tragic developments.