AL WAKRAH, Qatar (AP) – Breel Embolo’s goal lifted Switzerland to a 1-0 win over Cameroon in the World Cup on Thursday and kept his promise not to celebrate the score against the country where he was born.
The Swiss striker from Yaounde struck with a right-footed shot in the 48th minute, stretching just eight meters (yards) to the middle of the mouth to take Xherdan Shaqiri’s pass.
Embolo then pursed his lips in a wry smile and spread his arms, before raising his hands in an apologetic gesture as his teammates rushed towards him near the penalty spot.
He pointed towards the Swiss fans behind the goal where he had scored after the Cameroon fans in the opposite corner of the Al Janoub stadium.
The 25-year-old striker left Cameroon with his family when he was five years old. They spent time in France before settling in Switzerland, the country he is currently representing in a second World Cup.
Although an African player scored, African teams are now without a score through the four matches they have played in this World Cup. All played higher ranked teams, and Morocco and Tunisia drew 0-0 against Croatia and Denmark respectively.
Cameroon’s losing streak in World Cup finals tournaments has been extended to eight matches dating back to 2002.
Brazil and Serbia are also in Group G and will meet later on Thursday.
In the move for Embolo to score, it was too easy for the Swiss to pass the ball quickly through Cameroon’s defensive lines from the left flank to the right.
The Swiss’s quick start to the second half contrasted with a lack of urgency in the first half that could not be explained by the 1pm kickoff – one of only seven matches in Qatar to be played entirely in the day. The heat rose to 29 Celsius (84 Fahrenheit), the humidity was low and most of the playing area was shaded.
Cameroon wasted a clear scoring chance to take control in the 10th minute. A long, straight pass in front of the Swiss central defenders led to Karl Toko Ekambi firing a high half-volley over the bar from just 10 meters ( yards).
Cameroon exerted little pressure to try and level the game. Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa’s header in the 66th was headed straight for goalkeeper Yann Sommer who saved easily.
In the next game, a Swiss move on the right flank almost repeated the goal, but goalkeeper Andre Onana saved from Ruben Vargas.
A THOUSAND TIMES
Cameroon great Roger Milla was paraded on the pitch before the game. Fans were shown a video montage of his goals at the 1990 World Cup where Cameroon became the first African team to ever advance to the quarter-finals.
Milla was joined by Samuel Eto’o, Cameroon’s greatest player who now heads their football federation. Eto’o scored the only goal when Cameroon last won the World Cup – 1-0 against Saudi Arabia in 2002.
QUIET TREE DAY
Referee Facundo Tello had a quieter day than when he sent 10 players to Argentina just before coming to Qatar. He showed red cards to seven players from Boca Juniors and three from Racing Club after an extra-time brawl. Here, Tello showed three yellow cards and no red cards. This was the 13th game at the World Cup and no players were sent off yet.
Switzerland next play Group H favorites Brazil on Monday night in Doha. Earlier on the same day, Cameroon faced Serbia.
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