Al Wakra, Qatar. Switzerland got off to a great start to their World Cup campaign by beating Cameroon 1-0 at Al Janoub Stadium on Thursday.
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Cameroon had chances to take the lead in the first half, but it was Switzerland who finally broke the deadlock in the 48th minute when Brel Embolo struck from close range.
The Swiss national team had some brilliant chances to replenish their account, but they were prevented by a wonderful defense on their last legs.
With Brazil and Serbia lying in wait for these teams, it will be Switzerland who will have a solid lead while Cameroon needs two great performances to have any chance of getting knocked out.
1The Cameroonian striker who crushed a Cameroonian’s hopes
The breakthrough finally came early in the second half. Xherdan Shaqiri’s cross found Embolo about 8 yards from goal and he comfortably passed goaltender Andre Onana. It was Embolo’s first World Cup goal and you can imagine one of the best moments of his life, but the celebration was subdued. Instead, he raised his hands in apology—in respect.
Embolo was born in Yaoundé, Cameroon in 1997 but grew up in Basel. In his youth career, he worked his way up through the ranks to the Basel first team, where he played for two seasons before moving to the Bundesliga.
But this week in the Swiss camp, his homeland was discussed. Captain Granit Xhaka said that on the eve of the match they talked about Embolo’s roots, but Xhaka said “he is calm and will enjoy the match”, adding “I hope he scores”. He did just that.
Before the match, Cameroonian fans serenaded one of their national heroes, Roger Mill, who received a special FIFA award on the field. But just over an hour later, they had to mourn the striker who left as Embolo got his own piece of World Cup history.
2. Cameroon’s hopes hang in the balance
Since Brazil and Serbia joined these two teams in Group G, it was a very important match. Three points and they are still in contention for the knockouts, but the defeat means Cameroon will have to put up their two biggest performances in recent memory if they want to reach the round of 16.
They had their chances after dominating the first half and Eric Maxime Choupo-Moting was at the center of what they did well but also missed opportunities. The Bayern Munich star couldn’t get past goalkeeper Jann Sommer as he shot on goal, while Brian Mbeumo also saved a shot as Carl Toko Ekambi completed the rebound. And they also had two opportunities squandered by Sylvan Widmer’s brilliant defense on its last legs.
Cameroon were a dominant team but their lack of excellence cost them dearly and once Switzerland took the lead they were able to comfortably control the remainder of the game and should have increased their lead were it not for some great stumble defense from Onan, André – Frank Zambo Anguissa and the outstanding Jean-Charles Castelletto.
In the last 14 matches of the World Cup, in which Cameroon fell behind, they never managed to regain victory. And as the first round draws to a close, we’re still waiting for a goal from one of the four African nations, with Ghana finishing the set on Thursday. We saw all four break out of the blocks in the first half but couldn’t get a foothold in the net. Senegal failed to beat the Netherlands on Monday, losing 2-0 in the end. Tunisia beat Denmark 0-0 on Tuesday and Morocco drew against Croatia on Wednesday. And then on Thursday, Cameroon couldn’t get past Switzerland.
3. Switzerland needs to get better to pass
The defense of Cameroon was woeful for the victorious Switzerland. Embolo was completely invisible in the center, and Nicolas Nkulu watched the ball. And were it not for Onana’s brilliant save, Ruben Vargas should have added almost the same second 18 minutes later.
Winning was all that mattered to Switzerland, but they looked less impressive as a team than the sum of their parts. Even though the likes of Xhaka, Shaqiri and Vargas showed class, their end result wasn’t good enough and they can’t rely on solo counterattacks against Serbia and Brazil if they want to progress. And although Embolo got his winner, they need a lot more from him. There were times when he needed too many touches to set himself up, and at that time the ball was taken from him. Their defense also looked shaky at times, requiring a panic attack from behind to keep Cameroon from breaking through.
Switzerland: Sommer 7, Widmer 7, Elvedi 6, Akanji 6, Rodriguez 7, Xhaka 6, Freuler 8, Sow 6, Vargas 5, Shaqiri 7, Embolo 7
Subscriptions: Frei 6, Okafor 6, Seferovic 6, Rider 6, Komert 6
Cameroon: Onana 7, Fai 5, Nkulu 5, Castelletto 8, Tolo 5, Hongla 6, Gue 6, Anguiissa 6, Mbuemo 6, Camp 5, Shupo-Moting
Subscriptions: Ondua 6, Abubaker 6, Nkudu 6, Mumi Ngamaleu
Best and Worst Performers
BEST: Remo Freuler
He demanded a good game in midfield and managed to place himself in front of the back four, while Xhaka and Sow were higher.
WORST: Camp Carla Toko
Ekambi had Cameroon’s best chance of the match and failed to convert as Widmer eliminated him.
Highlights and Notable Moments
Brel Embolo puts Switzerland first and decides not to celebrate his goal against Cameroon, his homeland 🙌 pic.twitter.com/7amWCNa9kD
— FOX Football (@FOXSoccer) November 24, 2022
After the match: what the players and managers said
Cameroon coach Rigobert Song on Embolo: “It makes things harder, but that’s how the game is. We are all proud of our country – you saw that he did not celebrate his goal – but this is an integral part of the sport. happy and proud of him because I think he plays for the Swiss national team, I would like him to be on my side, but everything went wrong, this is life.
“I believe that in high-level football you need to be able to recover. Cameroon beat Argentina in 1990, but Argentina made it to the final, so anything is possible. We believe in this dream and I believe in the next game. will be critical and this is where we will have to invest our money in what we say to this generation.”
Basic statistics (provided by Sportzshala Stats & Information)
Cameroon now has the second longest losing streak in World Cup history, having lost eight games in a row. Mexico tops the list with nine defeats in a row between 1930 and 1958.
Embolo is not the first player to score at the World Cup for his country. Coincidentally, it had previously been a different player from Switzerland, as Fredi (Alfred) Bickel had scored against Germany in the 1938 World Cup. Bikel was born in Eppstein, Germany.
Switzerland: The victory in this match was key for the Swiss, as for them it is one of the favorites of the tournament. They will play Brazil in Doha on Monday and then finish their group campaign against Serbia in Doha next Friday, which will likely be the deciding factor for qualifying.
Cameroon: The African nation is very much against him right now and will almost certainly have to beat Serbia in Al Wakra on Monday to have a realistic chance of winning. On Friday, they will finish the group stage against Brazil in Lusail.