Cameroon silenced by Switzerland in World Cup opener

Thursday, November 24th, 2022 15:21 | By
Switzerland's forward Breel Embolo fights for the ball with Cameroon's defender Nicolas Nkoulou during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group G football match at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah, south of Doha on November 24, 2022. PHOTO/ AFP.

Switzerland looked bright in their opening 1-0 win over Cameroon. While they will have perhaps hoped for more goals, the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Bryan Mbeumo and Breel Embolo gave Swiss fans plenty to shout about. In a group that also contains Brazil, the most important thing was getting three points on the board.

Switzerland took early charge, with Cameroon sitting in a mid-block and trying to create openings on the counter. A searching ball from Xherdan Shaqiri towards the hyperactive Breel Embolo posed some early threat. Nouho Tolo was called into action with a meaty tackle on Silvan Widmer while Granit Xhaka blasted a speculative shot over.

Embolo’s pace and constant movement created plenty of gaps in the Cameroon back line. Shaqiri slid a particularly measured pass through to the forward, who was bundled over, but any penalty claims were snuffed out when he was found marginally offside.

Cameroon did warm to the task though, with Eric Choupo-Moting and Bryan Mbeumo causing havoc on the flanks. The former got away from Manuel Akanji on the left channel, but his shot went straight at Yan Sommer as the Manchester City defender caught up to him. Akanji nearly had an impact at the other end on the stroke of half time, getting up well from a corner but heading just wide of the mark.

The Swiss didn't have to wait long for their opener after half time. Shaqiri once again dovetailed with Embolo, with the wide man pulling back for the striker to side-foot home. Embolo’s celebration was muted, given Cameroon is the country of his birth, but his teammates made up for it with rapturous jubilation.

Choupo-Moting did his best to redress the balance. A beautiful piece of skill on the right flank took him deep into the Switzerland box. His shot was snuffed out at the near post by Sommer but his weaving run deserved more. There was goalkeeping heroics at the other end as Andre Onana pulled off a great reaction save from Ruben Vargas.

Cameroon gave a good account of themselves in their opener. The 43rd-ranked team in the world would not have expected much facing the 15th. But they were organised, tactically switched on and asked questions of their more illustrious opposition. Switzerland’s greater attacking fluency was too much though, even if they only had one goal to show for it.

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