The muted goal celebration is not a particularly common sight in international football, but with an increasingly globalized world, an increasingly globalized World Cup, and therefore also the conflicting emotions of the match winner of Switzerland Breel Embolo.
Born in Yaoundé before emigrating to France at the age of five, Embolo did not celebrate the clean and guided finish that helped defeat Cameroon in that tight Group G opener, but instead raised his hand to apologize. A few of his teammates ran to celebrate the pass with Xherdan Shaqiri instead.
They understand, after all. Many members of Murat Yakin’s squad have dual nationality, with the contingent hailing from the Balkans relishing a revenge from their heated 2018 encounter with Serbia in the final round of group games. It could be crucial for their hopes of reaching the knockout stages, with Brazil now next in line, but taking three points here was a promising start.
Cameroon can take positives, despite this eighth consecutive defeat equaling a World Cup record. Rigobert Song, the former Liverpool and West Ham defender, will note that the Indomitable Lions were the better team when the game was goalless, but a repeat of the group stage exits of 2010 and 2014 now looks more likely than not. any Italian heroism of the 90s.
With the floodlights on half-empty stadiums and seemingly inflated attendance figures, Al Janoub Stadium hosted perhaps the least-attended game of the group stage so far. At a ground based outside central Doha, between two nations without much travel or local support in Qatar, the number of people in the crowd appeared well below capacity of 44,325.
If a scrappy first half ended scoreless, Cameroon’s direct and physical style at least made for interesting viewing. The main beneficiary of this approach was Bryan Mbeumo, who made his World Cup debut after switching allegiance to Cameroon after only winning caps at youth level with France.
The Brentford winger’s nimble footwork and nimble movement were responsible for many of the first-half highlights – including a neat rotation of trouble that earned the replay treatment on the jumbotrons of Al Janoub – but his decision-making was faulty when he was set up by a ball over the top after 10 minutes.
Rather than face an unmarked Eric Choupo-Moting, Mbeumo fired from the inside left channel, directly at Swiss keeper Yann Sommer. Lyonnais Karl Toko Ekambi – one of Manchester City’s hangovers in the Champions League quarter-finals two years ago – might have done better on the rebound, with most goals not kept, but he has pulled over the first time.
Choupo-Moting hadn’t been happy with Mbeumo’s decision to shoot rather than pass but had only himself to blame when, after snatching the ball from Manuel Akanji at the halfway line, he spoiled the face. to face following against Sommer with a tame shot that stood easily.
Switzerland didn’t create such clear-cut chances for themselves except Akanji’s header from a corner as half-time dawned, but anyone who witnessed Cameroon’s run to the African Cup of Nations semi-finals on home soil earlier this year need to know that their defense will eventually give up chances.
Song’s team caved under the slightest pressure three minutes after the restart. Switzerland moved the ball up and down the field, through Granit Xhaka and Remo Freuler, to free Shaqiri on the right. A low cross finds Embolo who, passing Nicolas Nkoulou, completely escapes the attention of the Cameroonian centre-half.
Now unmarked, Embolo applied the finish to break the deadlock, and might have had another one later in the half only for Frank Zambo Anguissa to steal a Shaqiri corner from him as he prepared to tap in at the second post. Cameroon’s initial urgency had faded by then, although they were now a goal down.
Haris Seferovic had the opportunity to double Switzerland’s lead in stoppage time, seeing a shot blocked off the line by Jean-Charles Castelletto, but the added security of a second goal was unnecessary. The defeat of Cameroon had already been ensured by an ethnic Cameroonian.