Switzerland defeats Cameroon thanks to Breel Embolo
Switzerland opened the World Cup with a 1-0 win against Cameroon on Thursday.
Cameroon had first-half opportunities to grab the lead, but Switzerland’s Breel Embolo scored in the 48th minute.
Switzerland had numerous great opportunities to score, but last-gasp defence foiled them.
Switzerland will move ahead confidently against Brazil and Serbia, but Cameroon needs two outstanding performances to advance.
1. Cameroon’s hopeless striker
Second-half breakthrough. Embolo completed Xherdan Shaqiri’s 8-yard cross past Andre Onana. It was Embolo’s first World Cup goal, one of the finest moments of his life, yet he celebrated quietly. He apologised by raising his hands with respect.
1997-born Embolo was reared in Basel, Switzerland. He played for FC Basel for two seasons before transferring to the Bundesliga.
This week, the Swiss camp discussed his birthplace. Granit Xhaka stated the two had spoken about Embolo’s heritage, but he added “he’s cool and he’ll enjoy the match” Exactly.
Cameroon supporters serenaded Roger Milla, who got a FIFA award on the field, before the match. Just over an hour later, they were left lamenting a striker who got away when Embolo scored.
Cameroon’s aspirations are dangling
This match was noteworthy since Brazil and Serbia joined Group G. Cameroon need three points to reach the knockouts, but a loss means they’ll need two of their best performances ever to advance.
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting was in the centre of much of what they achieved successfully, but also in the thick of their missed opportunities. Bryan Mbeumo’s shot was saved by Yann Sommer, and Karl Toko Ekambi missed the rebound. Silvan Widmer’s last-gasp defence thwarted two further chances.
Cameroon dominated, but their lack of cutting edge cost them dearly. Once Switzerland pulled ahead, they were able to easily manage the remainder of the game and should’ve extended their advantage except for Onana, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, and Jean-Charles Castelletto.
Cameroon has never come back from a World Cup deficit in 14 encounters. We’re still waiting for a goal from one of four African teams, with Ghana completing the set on Thursday. All four teams started well in the first half, but none scored. Monday, Senegal lost 2-0 against Netherlands. Tunisia and Morocco both tied Croatia 0-0 on Tuesday. Cameroon lost Thursday against Switzerland.
3. Cameroon’s defence for Switzerland’s winner was terrible. Nicolas Nkoulou ball-watched Embolo in the centre. Ruben Vargas could have scored 18 minutes later but Onana made a great stop.
Switzerland won, although they were less remarkable than their parts. Xhaka, Shaqiri, and Vargas showed glimpses of excellence, but their final product wasn’t good enough. They can’t depend on counterattacking against Serbia and Brazil to advance. Embolo’s victory isn’t enough; they need more. When he required too many touches to be set, he lost the ball. Their defence was likewise poor, necessitating frenzied scurrying to stop Cameroon.
Sommer 7, Widmer 7, Elvedi 6, Akanji 6, Rodriguez 7, Xhaka 6, Freuler 8, Sow 6, Vargas 5, Shaqiri 7, Embolo 7
Frei, Okafor, Seferovic, Rieder, Comert 6
Onana 7, Fai 5, Nkoulou 5, Castelletto 8, Tolo 5, Hongla 6, Gouet 6, Anguissa 6, Mbuemo 6, Ekambi 5, Choupo-Moting 6.
Ondoua, Aboubaker, Nkoudou, Moumi Ngamaleu 6
Dictated play nicely in midfield and marshalled Xhaka and Sow further up.
Karl Toko Ekambi
Cameroon’s finest opportunity came when Ekambi was marked out by Widmer.
Post-game: Cameroon coach Rigobert Song was asked about Embolo by players and management. We’re all proud of our nation — you saw he didn’t rejoice — but this is sportsmanship. I’m thrilled and proud that he’s playing for Switzerland. I wanted him on my side, but that’s life. High-level football requires a quick recovery. Cameroon defeated Argentina in 1990, but Argentina won, so anything is possible. We believe in this ambition, and I think the next game will be crucial. We’ll have to put our money where our mouth is with this generation.”
Cameroon’s eight-game losing skid is the second-longest in World Cup history. Between 1930 and 1958, Mexico lost nine straight.
Embolo isn’t the first World Cup player to score against his own nation. Fredy (Alfred) Bickel scored against Germany in 1938. Bickel is German.
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Photo Credits: Claudio Villa/Getty Images