Former Cameroon star Roger Milla believes current captain Vincent Aboubakar could become one of Africa’s greatest ever players.
The 30-year-old has scored six times at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations finals, which is the best tally by any player since 1998 – when Benni McCarthy (South Africa) and Hossam Hassan (Egypt) got seven apiece.
Saudi Arabia-based Aboubakar netted Cameroon’s winner against Egypt in the 2017 final and will lead the Indomitable Lions into Thursday’s semi-final against the North Africans.
The all-time top goalscorer at a single Nations Cup is Mulamba Ndaye, who struck nine times for eventual champions Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 1974.
“Aboubakar could be one of the greatest African footballers,” Milla told BBC Sport Africa.
“Unfortunately, two years ago he suffered a very serious injury which sidelined him for four months.
“I’m very happy for him because he came into Afcon in good form. When he’s playing, it’s as if the whole country wants to make up for lost time and they want him to win.
“I hope he gets a goal against Egypt – and why not in the final?”
Cameroon ‘have power to beat any team’
Thursday’s last-four meeting is the latest instalment of heavyweight clashes between Cameroon and Egypt, the two most decorated teams in Nations Cup history.
The two sides have locked horns 10 times at the tournament and met in three Nations Cup finals, with the Pharaohs running out winners in 1986 and 2008.
Milla believes the Indomitable Lions will be favourites to go on and lift this year’s Africa Cup of Nations – if they can get past the record seven-time continental champions.
“Egypt is a good footballing nation and they’ve proved that over the years,” Milla, 69, said.
“Cameroon might not have the technique of the Egyptians, but Cameroon has the aggression to win and the power to beat any team.
“I think Cameroon will be motivated, but it’s a difficult Afcon and it’ll be difficult to get past Egypt. I think that if we can get past Egypt, Cameroon will be favourites.”
Milla was part of Indomitable Lions squads which won the country’s first two Nations Cup titles in 1984 and 1988, and was top scorer in 1986 when they were beaten on penalties in the final.
Cameroon are hosting the Nations Cup for the first time since 1972, when they finished third, and Milla hopes coach Toni Conceicao can lead the central African nation to a sixth triumph.
“I’ve watched a lot of Afcon, I am a supporter of the Indomitable Lions,” Milla added.
“We are here to support them in the final because we have been waiting for this victory for 50 years in our country.”
Cameroon unity impresses Milla
Milla represented the Indomitable Lions in three World Cups and rose to global prominence in 1990, scoring four goals at the age of 38 as the Indomitable Lions reached the quarter-finals in Italy.
He also played for Cameroon at the tournament in the United States in 1994, becoming the oldest player in the history of the tournament – a record which has since been surpassed twice.
Cameroon did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup, and face a two-legged play-off against Algeria next month for a spot at Qatar 2022.
Now two games away from continental silverware, Milla believes the current squad have different strengths to the sides he played in.
“The difference is that we had the individuals who were very strong – we could change a match at any time,” he said.
“Today it’s different. I think this team plays according to its opponent and that’s what I like. They know the Egypt team very well.
“A lot of them played in the 2017 Afcon, like Aboubakar who was aggressive in the final against Egypt, and there are others who are ready for the match.”
Interview with Roger Milla by Mohamed Fajah Barrie.