Shamrock Rovers' Pico Lopes heading for ACON last-16

The centre-half was again a tower of strength at the back
Shamrock Rovers' Pico Lopes heading for ACON last-16

Cape Verde's Dylan Tavares, right, defends against Cameroon's Collins Fai during the African Cup of Nations 2022 group A soccer match between Cape Verde and Cameron at the Olembe stadium in Yaounde, Cameroon, Monday, Jan. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

The League of Ireland is likely to have a representative in the African Cup of Nations last-16 after Roberto Lopes' Cape Verde battled back to draw 1-1 draw against hosts Cameroon.

The Shamrock Rovers’ centre-half was again a tower of strength at the back, deservedly winning the man-of-the-match in stiflingly humid conditions in Yaounde.

Group leaders Cameroon went ahead on 39 minutes through captain Vincent Aboubakar’s fifth goal of the tournament but substitute Garry Rodrigues equalised eight minutes after coming on at the break.

The draw moved Cape Verde onto four points in the final standings.

Although they were edged out for second on head-to-head criteria by Burkina Faso, who they lost to last Thursday, the points tally should be sufficient to claim one of the places on offer for the four best third-placed sides across the groups. They must await the conclusion of the group stage to be sure of their passage.

Back-to-back League of Ireland title winner Lopes made history by becoming the first Irish-born player to feature at the prestigious tournament having belatedly declared through his father Carlos in 2019.

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