The Indomitable Lions are roaring once more after defeating a combative Panthers side in Libreville today.
Cameroon are back in the running for a place in South Africa after earning their first win in World Cup qualifying in Libreville against group leaders Gabon.
The visitors pressed out of the gates, applying high pressure that yielded a free kick expertly taken by Geremi Njitap and met by Atchoyi Somen whose header narrowly missed the target.
The Gabonese responded with their own attacks but were unable to significantly trouble their Northern neighbors. Meanwhile, Atchoyi had another chance ten minutes later but once again was unlucky not to open the scoring when his header went helplessly past the post.
The match was being played at a frenetic pace with each side taking turns attacking the other with neither one managing to find the finishing touch with their efforts.
The best chance until that point was created in the 17th minute as Daniel Cousin, who was put clear through on goal by a clever pass from the midfield, was unable to find the net with a defender and a Carlos Kameni closing on him.
Center back Sebastien Bassong was injured on a separate play and newly appointed Paul Le Guen was forced to substitute veteran Rigobert Song into the match to replace him.
Samuel Eto’o’s first attempt on goal came shortly after on a free kick from 35 yards but his shot was much too easy for the well placed Gabonese keeper who had no problem corralling the ball. The Inter striker had another chance before halftime but his shot was parried by Didier Ovono albeit with a great deal more difficulty this time around.
The Cameroonians continued their aerial dominance but were unable to take advantage of their opportunities as each chance went begging. On the other end, Kameni had to push a free kick blasted over the crossbar and was called on again on the ensuing corner kick but the referee whistled a foul on a Gabonese striker.
Seconds before the halftime whistle, Benoit Essou Ekoto made a terrible mistake by grabbing the ball with his hands near his side’s corner flag when he thought he was fouled but was instead whistled and yellow carded for the offense. Thankfully for him the Panthers free kick didn’t punish him or his side further.
In the second period, the Cameroonian players came out motivated but their physicality was leading them to make rash challenges, one of which almost cost them dearly if not for Song’s last minute intervention to clear off the goal-line.
Daniel Cousin had another chance to make himself a hero in the 59th minute but his shot went blazing over the crossbar. He then wasted another opportunity two minutes later but this time it was a pass that he failed to make to a strike partner who had a clear path to goal.
After bending at the back more than once throughout the encounter, it was Cameroon that managed to take the lead in 66th minute through a powerful strike from a tight angle from Achille Emana. The Real Betis midfielder found himself with at his feet in the box after the Alain Giresse’s men faltered in defense and didn’t turn down the favor.
The Indomitable Lions then followed that up with an incredible finish by Sameul Eto’o who gave the Gabonese keeper absolutely no chance with a well placed bending strike from right inside the penalty area to send the traveling supporters into ecstasy.
The situation forced Giresse into an offensively minded substitution as he brought on Eric Mouloungi for Pierre Aubameyang but the move had no impact on the final result as Cameroon held on to win and collect their first three points.
This victory gives Le Guen’s side a total of four points from three games and a realistic chance of mounting a comeback in their bid to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Meanwhile, the Gabon still leads the group with six points but now need a result in the reverse fixture if they are to keep their rivals at bay.
Rami Ayari, Goal.com