Two of Africa’s representatives at Canada 2015, Nigeria and Cameroun had different shades of fortunes from Tuesday’s round of final group matches at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
All teams were eager to extend their stay in Canada for as long as possible, with the final round of matches taking place in Groups C and D on Tuesday, but some were inevitably going to be disappointed, while others would celebrate reaching the knockout stage.
In Group C, Cameroon prevailed after going head-to-head with Switzerland for a place in the round of 16, but things were different in Group D.
All four teams kept an eye on results elsewhere as they all still had a chance of going through to the next stage, but, at the end of the day, it was Ecuador and Nigeria who were forced to pack their bags for home.
Incidentally, the diverse fortunes for Nigeria and Cameroun served up another dramatic angle to different strokes, as both teams entered their resp4ective games with raucous singing by their players.
Upon arriving at the BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, Nigeria’s Super Falcons demonstrated that seemingly ordinary occasions can be made into special ones.
After the Falcons emerged from the bus, the players, coaches and backroom staff made the short trip to their changing room singing and clapping loudly.
Nevertheless, their opponents USA remained unfazed and won the encounter 1-0, leaving Nigeria bottom of the group and out of the competition.
Similarl6y, Cameroun’s supporters sang their country’s national anthem so wholeheartedly it seemed to give their side added motivation to succeed.
In doing so, they played their part in helping the Indomitable Lionesses create breakthrough success with a dynamic 2-1 win over Switzerland, catapulting them into historic qualification for the knockout stage.
Cameroon are now just the second African team after Nigeria in 1999 to progress beyond the group stage, and their win over Switzerland is only the second by an African nation over a European opponent at the tournament.
Few backed Cameroon to succeed at Canada 2015 on their debut but the Indomitable Lionesses played with all the swagger that translated into nine goals so far, marking the highest tally by a representative of the Mother Continent.
Cameroon came within inches of taking a point from world champions Japan in their last outing, and the result meant Switzerland only needed a draw on Tuesday in Edmonton.
A goal down at half-time Cameroon played with rare verve to dominate the second half against the first European team to qualify for Canada 2015.
Gabrielle Onguene drew the teams level and when substitute Madeleine Ngono Mani then powered in a bullet header from close-range to finish a thrilling move there was only going to be one winner.
FACTS & FIGURES
*Abby Wambach’s volley for USA against Nigeria was her 14th goal at a Women’s World Cup, pulling her level with Germany’s Birgit Prinz and just one behind the tournament’s all-time leading scorer: Brazil attacker Marta. With both USA and Brazil now in the last 16 in Canada, the duo can battle it out for supremacy.
*Christie Rampone was the second American to write her name in the record books on Tuesday, becoming the oldest player to feature at a Women’s World Cup at the age of 39.
*Jakobsson’s equaliser against Australia proved that power is not always a must when it comes to shooting from distance. Sweden’s No10 received the ball on the right wing, cut inside and dribbled parallel to the edge of the penalty area before hitting a left-footed shot inside the near post.
*The tournament was over for Japan’s Kozue Ando in her team’s very first game after she broke her left ankle, forcing her to watch from afar as she recovers from the injury. Her team-mates have not forgotten her, however, and have taken to placing a teddy bear sporting her No7 shirt on the substitutes’ bench.
*Holland were one of the biggest winners of the day – and they did not even play. Instead, they probably watched the match between Switzerland and Cameroon sitting on a sofa in their hotel, and will have been happy to see Switzerland stay on three points following their defeat, the same tally as Thailand in Group B.
*The Dutch side ended the group stage on four points, only marginally better perhaps, but enough for the tournament debutants to be guaranteed a place in the Round of 16 as one of the best third-placed finishers. Switzerland’s frustration at losing was short-lived, as results in Group D meant they too were certain to be among the best third-placed teams, becoming the sixth side to book their place in the next round.