Cameroon defeated New Zealand 2-1 in their final Group E encounter at the Women's World Cup in Montpelier on Thursday.
The Africans lost their opening game 1-0 to Canada before bowing 3-1 to the Netherlands and needed to win to claim one of the four spots for best third-placed teams.
Ajara Nchout's second-half brace was all Alain Djuemba's ladies required to overcome the Football Ferns at Stade de la Mosson.
Nchout broke the deadlock in the 57th minute before Marie Awona's own goal helped the opponents level matters in the 80th minute.
The Valerenga's forward provided her second moment of the brilliance of the game when she fired the Africans into the last 16 with what turned out to be the last kick of the match.
With the win, the Indomitable Lionesses have sealed their place in the last 16 for the second time on the bounce on their second appearance on the world stage.
Having left it late to advance, coach Djuemba revealed how he inspired his side to a triumph over Tom Sermanni's side.
"I know the girls inside out, we’ve spent ten years together. I know their strengths and weaknesses," the coach told media.
"I talk to them here and there. 'I know you’ve taken a hit with the equalizer but keep your heads up and focus and do what’s necessary.
"We’ve played against Canada, we’ve played against the team that’s top of the Group, we’ll play our best and look forward to what’s next."
Cameroon will hope to avoid a back-to-back second-round exits when they face England at Stade du Hainaut in Valenciennes.