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World Cup

Cameroon Winners & Losers: Embolo makes mockery of Eto'o predictions

3:41 PM WAT 24/11/2022
Choupo-Moting, Embolo, Eto'o
GOAL’s Ed Dove picks through the winners and losers after Cameroon’s opening World Cup defeat
  • Jean-Charles Castelletto (C) of Cameroon

    Cameroon 0-1 Switzerland

    Cameroon are already up against it in World Cup Group G after losing their opener against Switzerland on Thursday.

    The Indomitable Lions were the better side in the first half, but after failing to break the deadlock, they fell behind when Breel Embolo netted the only goal of the game.

    Knowing that Brazil are still to come in the group, Cameroon know that the margin for error is now tiny as they look to avoid yet another First Round exit at the World Cup.

  • Rigobert Song, Cameroon

    Loser: Cameroon

    The Indomitable Lions certainly have a proud record of qualifying for the World Cup, having represented Africa more times than any other country on the grandest stage of all.

    Certainly, some in Cameroon believe the nation have an almost divine right to be present at the tournament.

    However, they also have a dismal recent record at the competition…and it’s a poor run that, unfortunately, was extended on Thursday.

    Their defeat by Switzerland was their eighth consecutive loss in the tournament, for context, it’s only one loss fewer than the worst ever run in the competition—Mexico’s nine defeats between 1930 and 1958.

    Another loss, against Serbia on Monday, would mean a very unwanted record for the Indomitable Lions.

  • Breel Embolo Schweiz WM 2022

    Winner: Breel Embolo

    Switzerland’s Embolo scored the only goal of the game to become the hero of the piece…or the villain, as far as the Lions are concerned.

    The striker has now netted in each of his last three competitive outings for the national side, and he demonstrated that he has the quality to fire the Swiss out of the group stage.

    Cameroonians aren’t happy, of course, with the striker having been born in Yaounde before moving to Europe as a youngster.

    Embolo had the class not to celebrate against the land of his birth, but his winner was a stark reminder of just what Cameroon are missing out on.

  • Samuel Eto'o Cameroon Qatar

    Loser: Eto’o’s predictions

    Samuel Eto’o might see himself as something of a football sage, but his predictions are in danger of unravelling early on here in Qatar.

    The Fecafoot President has tipped the Indomitable Lions to win the whole tournament, and has insisted that his players won’t be leaving Doha before December 19th—the day after the World Cup final.

    After only one game, and a fairly underwhelming performance, his predictions are beginning to look clown-like, and farcically over-optimistic.

  • Bryan Mbeumo Cameroon.

    Winner: Bryan Mbeumo

    Rigobert Song made the bold move to start Brentford’s Mbeumo ahead of Moumi Ngamaleu on the right flank, even though the former France youth international only made his international debut in September.

    Ultimately, Cameroon didn’t find the net, but Mbeumo was a lively and inventive presence on the right, and at least during the vibrant first half, dovetailed well with Eric-Maxim Choupo Moting and Collins Fai.

    Mbeumo demonstrated his ability to race beyond a defender and take shots at goal, as well as his capacity to come inside and use the ball intelligently.

    He created two goalscoring chances—no one registered more—completed more successful crosses than anyone else on the pitch, and also won three free kicks as Switzerland struggled to deal with him.

    The attacker has the potential to be Cameroon’s saviour in the matches to come.

  • Nicolas Nkoulou Cameroon

    Loser: Cameroon’s defence

    They may have kept an unambitious Switzerland side at bay for the first half, but realistically, it was the Lions’ own attacking ambition, rather than their defensive solidity, that served them well.

    The full-backs were tenacious and hassled Xherdan Shaqiri out of the match in the first half, but despite packing the midfield with defensive midfielders, Cameroon’s centre-backs looked worryingly exposed when Switzerland did attack.

    They were lucky not to have fallen behind in the first half when Manuel Akanji failed to convert with a header, and their concentration betrayed them as soon as the Swiss hit their stride.

    They were saved from conceding further by a fine save by Andre Onana and an excellent intervention by Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, but the decision to cut commanding centre-back Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui from the squad at the death, and instead keep faith in ageing Nicolas Nkoulou, looks worse by the day.