At different times, Cameroon and Brazil have spoken of their countries’ love of dance. Call it a coincidence or what you will, but on Thursday, when Brazil, Cameroon, Switzerland and Serbia kicked off the World Cup, FIFA presented Roger Milla at the Al Janoub Stadium.
In a smart suit, his head shaved, the man whose jig by the corner flag gave another dimension to the World Cup goal celebration walked away with FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Sameul Eto ‘o who now leads the Cameroonian federation.
Visibly moved, Milla received a framed certificate from FIFA for being the oldest World Cup goalscorer at 42 years and 39 days in 1994. Milla, 70, then walked with his certificate to the Cameroon fans.
A Cameroonian-born player scored but there was no celebration as Breel Embolo now represents Switzerland. Embolo’s 48th-minute strike helped Switzerland open their Group G campaign with a 1-0 win here on Thursday. In a stadium with a retractable roof whose architecture is reminiscent of dhows, that was enough.
Song, a player with experience of four World Cup finals who was appointed on the recommendation of the country’s president Paul Biya last February, also said Switzerland “see our fire”. Switzerland got a taste of it when Bryan Mbeumo, a young French international who renounced his nationality to play for Cameroon because Eto’o also asked for it – who can refuse that of a star in Barcelona , Inter and Chelsea – broke free. in the 10th minute and shot but Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer parried. Only until Karl Ekambi. But Ekambi, who Brilliant has one of his middle names, exploded when a pass to Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting might have been the better option.
With Switzerland sitting back and looking for the counter, there were more examples of Cameroon fire at the start of the match. Choupo-Moting stole a pass from Nico Elvedi’s header to Manuel Akanji and spun into space but shot too close to Player of the Match Sommer. Toko Ekambi was denied by a slippery Silvan Widmer and again by Elvedi.
Switzerland had no shots on target in the first half although Embolo went close with a header before Akanji did from the ensuing corner. But they couldn’t have asked for a better start to the second. With central defender Nicolas Nkoulou over-committing to his left and Jean-Charles Castelletto a step behind, Embolo was free to receive a ball from Xherdan Shaqiri from the right and score from close range. It was the signal Switzerland needed to get into the game.
Shaqiri worked down the right flank and clever runs from Embolo to clear defenders away meant space opened up in the Cameroon penalty area. Like in the 66th minute when Embolo took off a player and Ruben Vargas intervened but Andre Onana saved. On the other side, Choupo-Moting went solo once but found the angle too steep. As the game continued, Cameroon, despite all their early pressing, looked tired and Switzerland took matters into their own hands.
Through it all, Song, dressed in a black suit and his dreadlocks dangling from under a black cap, paced the sideline. In the stands, Eto’o was seated, looking thoughtful, his cap tight. Eto’o had declared that Cameroon would win the World Cup. That seems to have to wait for a side that have only dropped out of the group once in their World Cup history. Just like the dance that Mbuemo had talked about.
- Swiss beat Cameroon, Embolo keeps promise
- Comeback vs Serbia keeps Cameroon in Cup
- FIFA World Cup: Matchday five wrap – Ronaldo scores at fifth World Cup, Richarlison stunner gives Brazil win
- Cameroon strike late to stun Brazil in Cup
- Swiss eye strong start against Cameroon