Former Impact full-back Ambroise Oyongo Bitolo (30) captained and scored the clinching penalty for his national team in their AFCON 3rd/4th place play-off match with Burkina Faso on Saturday.
Hosts Cameroon had lost on a penalty shoot-out to reach the final at the expense of Mo Salah’s Egypt, but despite several changes (from which Oyongo benefitted) managed to get the job done against Burkina Faso to clinch third place, but only just and only after a comeback of momentous proportions.
Cameroon were 3 down to The Stallions after 50 minutes, a situation which prevailed until the comeback begun with only 19 mins left on the clock.
Coach Antonio Conceicao opted to leave tournament top scorers Ekambi and Al Nassr’s Vincent Aboubakar, his captain thus far in the tournament, on the bench. Enter the experienced Oyongo, who assumed the mantle.
But Aboubakar was still needed and scored twice after his half-time introduction, the second in the 87th minute - his 8th goal of the tournament, which ultimately took the game to a penalty shoot-out.
Cameroon scored their first four spot-kicks and when Ibrahim Blati Toure missed Burkina Faso’s fourth, Oyongo stepped up to convert and secure the third place medals for his countrymen.
It’s not the first time Oyongo’s coolness from the spot has paid dividends for his country in AFCON. On their way to winning the tournament in Gabon in 2017, he scored the second in a crucial shoot-out quarter-final victory over Senegal after the sides had played to a scoreless stalemate.
MONTREAL’S ONLY-EVER CONTINENTAL CHAMPION
Ambroise Oyongo remains the only serving Montreal Impact/CF Montreal player ever to become a continental champion with his country.
He remains contracted to Montpellier in Ligue Un after an ill-fated loan spell to Krasnodar in the Russian Premier League ended in cruciate ligament injury. Oyongo has made only one appearance from the subs bench in French football this season.
After joining from New York Red Bulls IN 2015, Ambroise Oyongo Bitolo played 60 times in MLS for Montreal Impact (25th highest in history), scoring 2 goals and contributing 6 assists (72 apps, 3 goals and 7 assists, all competitions). He also sits in joint-third for MLS red cards on 3, alongside Laurent Ciman and Marco Donadel.
He never did take a penalty for Montreal, but then the Impact had penalty-king, Patrice Bernier in the ranks at the time!