The story of Mauritania's rise to the fringes of the top tier of African soccer nations - i.e. those that win entry to the Africa Cup of Nations - is one of the global game's more interesting tales, sketched in part here.
Cameroon was expected to challenge for the one guaranteed AFCON 2017 berth available from this qualifying group (the runner up also has a shot), but few would have picked Mauritania as the team most likely to deny the Indomitable Lions another shot at Africa's premier international tournament.
Still, Mauritania is just a point behind Cameroon in the standings and has claimed maximum points from its two home games in this group to date (against South Africa and Gambia). The Lions remain favorites both in this match and to win the qualifying group, but Les Mourabitones are the home team and no longer regarded as one of African soccer's pushovers. For a team whose major tournament history is almost entirely summarized by "did not enter", did not qualify" or "withdrew", it is an impressive feat to have won sufficient respect to be regarded as a legitimate contender to win a group that contains both South Africa and Cameroon.
For the Lions, therefore, the task is to subdue their hosts. A draw will be sufficient to keep Cameroon top of its group with one (home) game to play; a win would secure the team a place at AFCON 2017.
All of which is to say this is very much a meaningful game for Cameroon. And if the New York Red Bulls' 19-year-old forward, Anatole Abang, can add to his three senior international caps during this match, it will be a compliment to not only his potential but also his ability to contribute to his national team's immediate priorities.