The two sides met in the third place play-off after losing their semi-finals – Cameroon went down to Egypt 3-1 on penalties after a goalless 90 minutes, while Burkina Faso was beaten 3-1 by Senegal inside regulation time.
Things looked bleak again for Cameroon at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo after Steeve Yago put Burkina Faso ahead in the 24th minute before goalkeeper Andre Onana put through his own net to make it 2-0 before half-time.
Burkina Faso didn't let up in the second period, Djibril Ouattara putting a powerful header past Onana within four minutes of the restart, and boos from the home crowd rang out as the Indomitable Lions failed to live up to their nickname.
But with 20 minutes to go, Stephen Bahoken bundled home after Burkina Faso failed to clear from a corner, sparking faint hopes of a comeback. Those hopes grew exponentially when top scorer Vincent Aboubakar took advantage of more poor defending from a corner, nodding home to make it 3-2, and with just five minutes left of the 90, Burkina Faso's nerves were jangling.
It was Aboubakar that levelled matters two minute later, collecting the scraps as Farid Ouedraogo collided with a team-mate while jumping for a high ball and coolly slotting home to somehow make it 3-3, albeit after a lengthy check by the VAR team (video assistant referee).
That delay allowed Ouedraogo to receive treatment, but he failed to recover from the fall and was taken from the field on a stretcher.
Aboubacar Sawadogo came on to replace him between the sticks, and was left with the task of having to face penalties after regulation time expired.
But it was Onana that would prove to be the goalkeeping hero, saving Blati Toure's penalty to allow Cameroon to win the shootout 5-3, captain Ambroise Oyongo sparking wild scenes on and off the field as he blasted home the decisive spot-kick.