In the opening match of Group G between the national teams of Switzerland and Cameroon, the quarter-finalists of the last European Championship won with a minimum score. The only goal at the beginning of the second half was scored by forward Brel Embolo, a Cameroonian by birth.
The balance of power in Group G, in which the Brazilians are clear favorites, and the teams of Switzerland, Serbia and Cameroon are comparable in class, implied in advance the most stubborn struggle in the matches between these three teams. The price of any victory and any defeat here is too high, so it was naive to expect that the Africans or any of the Europeans would immediately rush forward with drafts drawn.
It is not surprising that the first half of the meeting between the Swiss and the Cameroonians turned out to be, albeit not as hopelessly boring as the confrontation between the Croats and the Moroccans, but still goalless. Although it was not without dangerous moments. For example, Jan Sommer, the most experienced goalkeeper of the Swiss national team and Borussia Mönchengladbach, parried the ball twice after Brian Mbemo's shots. And his Cameroonian colleague Andre Onan, who plays for Inter Milan, after Ruben Vargas' crosses, Swiss defenders Manuel Akanji and Nico Elvedi ruffled their nerves with headbutts.
And at the beginning of the second half, the Swiss quite famously opened the scoring. They played a geometrically perfect combination: in two diagonal passes they delivered the ball from the left flank to the right, from where Xherdan Shaqiri shot at Brel Embolo.
Born in the Cameroonian capital of Yaounde, the 25-year-old Monaco striker was very modestly happy about scoring the team, for which, in theory, he himself could well play now. And his failed partners, meanwhile, figured out how the opponent ended up in the penalty area in splendid isolation for a few seconds.
For some time the Cameroonians did not give up. For example, Eric Choupo-Moting, who took a place in the main team of Bayern after the departure of Robert Lewandowski, actively tried to push through the Swiss defense. But Sommer persevered. And then the Swiss in response carried out two sharp attacks. First, their right-back Silvan Widmer made the most accurate pass to Ruben Vargas, but Onana parried the shot into the near corner. And then Embolo was a little unlucky. He was already ready to score a double, when Napoli's leading midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo-Angissa, with a clumsy, but the only correct movement in this case, literally from under the striker's nose, turned the ball into a corner.
And then something strange happened.
The national team of Cameroon, which, in theory, had to score, as if resigned to defeat, noticeably slowing down. It is possible that the Africans simply ran out of strength.
Or maybe their head coach, the imposing Rigobert Song, nicknamed the Great Leader, decided that in the first match of such a group it was better not to tempt fate, but to lose with a minimum score, hoping then for a better goal difference compared to competitors. If that's the case, then the cautious tactics of the highly experienced Song, one of only two players to have played in the 1994 and 2010 World Cups, might not have worked. Already in stoppage time, Swiss striker Haris Seferovic, who came on as a substitute, was obliged to upset Onana once again, but hit one of the defenders.
As a result - 1:0. The winners, led by Murat Yakin, who left a not very good memory of himself a few years ago after an unsuccessful season at Spartak Moscow, proved that of the three contenders for second place in this group, they seem to be the most balanced team in terms of the skill of the performers. in all lines. For the losers, however, not everything is lost either, but now they cannot lose points in the second round match against the Serbian national team.
November 24th. El Wakra, Al Janoub Stadium. 39089 spectators.
Shots on goal 7 8
shots on target 3 5
Corner 11 5
Offsides 2 2
fouls 12 10
Warnings 2 1
% possession 51 49