Football: Azerbaijan and Cameroon in entertaining stalemate
Hosts Azerbaijan held Cameroon to a 0-0 draw on the opening day of the football tournament as the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games got underway in Baku.
The result leaves defending champions Morocco, Cameroon's next opponents, at the top of the group table after they defeated Saudi Arabia 1-0 in an earlier match.
The Indomitable Lions, who received a phone call from legend Roger Milla to show his support, fielded a strong team with brothers Frank Bagnack (Real Zaragoza) and Michel Vaillant (FK Mladost) manning the squad at both ends of the pitch.
While defender Frank, who rose through the ranks of the reputed Barcelona academy, was the most recognized name, it was his younger brother who grabbed the spotlight.
The lanky forward didn't score, but he proved instrumental in inspiring his team's attacking power with his anchor role.
Cameroon tried hard to break the deadlock early on as Frantz Pangop Tchidjui, Pierre Kunde Malong and Jean Nicolas Abanda Koa all failed to find the target with a sequence of long range efforts.
But it was Aghabala Ramazanov who got the best chance at the other end, just before half-time, with a tremendous volley from outside the box that rattled the crossbar.
Serge Yvan Ekollo Malolo missed a golden opportunity for Cameroon just after the break, after pouncing on a Sadig Guliyev blunder.
Midfield general Kunde Malong was once again in the spotlight on the hour mark with a powerful shot that forced keeper Shakhrudin Magomedaliev to make a brilliant save.
The pacey Jahfort Gueyap Dji also tested Magomedaliev with a snap-shot that went agonisingly wide.
An impressive save by Simon Loti Omossola Medjo with 20 minutes to go woke up the Bayil stadium which erupted with chants of "Azeri! Azeri!", quickly followed by attempts by Mahir Madatov and Vugar Mustafayev.
After that Ekollo Malolo and substitute Jeff Ngongang Nana once again tried their luck from a long range in the closing minutes.
Cameroon now have a couple days before heading into an African matchup against title holders Morocco as Azerbaijan clash with Saudi Arabia.