Cameroon may not have booked passage into the round of 16 but it would nevertheless be a night to remember for The Indomitable Lions after a shock 1-0 win against 2022 World Cup favorite Brazil at Lusail Iconic Stadium. Rigobert Song’s men came so close to changing their stars after they needed a 2-0 win over the five-time winners while getting assistance during Serbia vs Switzerland, and though they have been sent packing from the competition, they can - and undoubtedly will - hold their heads high on a historic night on the world’s biggest stage.
Brazil began proceedings in control as expected, and Arsenal starlet Gabriel Martinelli nearly headed the South American juggernaut into a 1-0 lead inside fifteen minutes after Fred floated a ball just eight yards from goal, but Devis Epassy’s acrobatic save tipped his effort over the bar.
A Seleção continued to knock on the barn door through Martinelli who began to run rampant down the left flank but the five-time World Cup champions remained unable to find the opening goal on the night despite continuing to dominate the balance of play, which by the 25th minute saw them boast over 70% possession as the screws began to turn.
It would be Martinelli once again that was presented with a good chance to break the deadlock after he danced his way to the top of the box but his well-struck effort could only be hit right at Epassy who comfortably fisted over the bar as Brazil who nearly went into the half-time interval stunned after Ederson was forced into a brilliant diving save after Brentford winger Bryan Mbeumo headed low to the far post after Nouhou Tolo found enough space to provide service in what was the first save by a Brazilian keeper all tournament.
The Indomitable Lions started with a bit more attacking intent in the opening exchanges of the second half, with what was their only chance of the match falling to none other than star striker Vincent Aboubakar who did well enough to shake his marker but his shot could only bend wide of Ederson’s far post.
The pendulum would quickly swing back in Brazil’s favor after it was Martinelli again to test Epassy from a bending effort destined for the far post before being tipped over the bar, which was quickly followed up by the Cameroonian shot-stopper making two more smart saves including one against Antony.
Both sides would continue to exchange potential body blows on a night that Cameroon needed to bag a 2-0 win if they were to advance into the next round, but once again it was Brazil that fashioned another key chance when second-half substitute Raphinha beat his man down the right channel before squaring across goal for Bruno Guimarães only for Tolo to block his redirected effort before it was slotted past Epassy.
But as this World Cup has shown time and again, the unexpected unfolded after Aboubakar once again found the back of the net in service of his country when he guided his header past Ederson two minutes into stoppage to put Cameroon ahead.
Newcastle United star Bruno Guimarães nearly broke Cameroonian hearts in the final minute of stoppage when he was free and clear in the six-yard box to slot past Epassy only for him to hash his effort over the bar when he otherwise looked destined to score.
It is an immense result for Cameroon despite failing to qualify for the round of 16 and arguably the biggest group stage result in the history of their program.
Cameroon Player Ratings
- Devis Epassy (GK): 8.5
- Collins Fai (RB): 6.5
- Christopher Wooh (CB): 6.5
- Enzo Ebosse (CB): 7
- Nouhou Tolo (LB): 7
- André-Frank Zambo Anguissa (DM): 6.5
- Pierre Kunde (CM): 6.5
- Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (CAM): 6.5
- Bryan Mbeumo (RW): 6.5
- Moumi Ngamaleu (LW): 6
- Vincent Aboubakar (CF): 7
- Karlo Toko-Ekambi (Sub): 6.5
- Olivier Ntcham (Sub): 6
- Jerome Ngom Mbekeli (Sub): 6
Brazil Player Ratings
- Ederson (GK): 7 - A handful of good saves from the Manchester City shot-stopper highlighted what was a good outing from him on the night despite Aboubakar’s match-winner.
- Dani Alves (RB): 7 - Despite his age, Alves showed his longevity against an energetic counterattack-based side and performed admirably.
- Eder Militão (CB): 6.5 - A star at the highest level in Spain, Militão put in a decent shift but Brazil has shown some weaknesses in defense on the night.
- Bremer (CB): 6.5 - Likely to not feature again at the World Cup after tonight as he was given a rotational start where he did not perform well enough to change Tite’s thinking.
- Alex Telles (LB): 6.5 - A pretty okay day for Telles before his removal in the 52nd minute due to a knock suffered in the first half that meant he could not continue.
- Fabinho (CM): 6.5 - Not the same level of performance from the holding midfielder as he can produce at club level for Liverpool. Okay on the night.
- Fred (CM): 6.5 - Not a poor performance by any means and could have had an assist in the first half but overall his lack of a real creative spark is telling.
- Rodrygo (CAM): 6.5 - Muted from the Real Madrid starlet on the night who was tasked as a roaming 10 rather than his favored place out wide at club level.
- Antony (RW): 6.5 - Some of his usual tricks were on display as the Manchester United winger got a start on the night but overall he did not bring enough to the table.
- Gabriel Martinelli (LW): 8 - The brightest player on a pitch by a longshot for Brazil tonight and was unlucky to not score. Telling that he was the only starting forward to remain on the pitch.
- Gabriel Jesus (CF): 6.5 - Got his chance to lead the line tonight but likely will not usurp Richarlison for the starting birth come the round of sixteen.
- Marquinhos (Sub): 6
- Bruno Guimarães (Sub): 6.5
- Éverton Ribeiro (Sub): 6
- Pedro (Sub): 6
- Raphinha (Sub): 6.5