Cameroon launch second-half attack to beat Switzerland and advance

Cameroon’s Gabrielle Oguene produced a memorable second-half performance Tuesday afternoon in Edmonton, orchestrating her country’s come-from-behind win over Switzerland 2-1. With the win, the Indomitable Lionesses secured a Round-of-16 Women’s World Cup date against China as the second-place finisher in Group C. 

The Africans and Chinese will meet Saturday evening in Commonwealth Stadium after the Oguene-inspired Cameroon second half proved far too much for the slower Swiss to deal with. 

The fact that Cameroon came into the tournament ranked 53rd in the world — Switzerland is 19th — suggested both that a World Cup brings out the best in teams and that the FIFA women’s rankings are a bit suspect.

As a result of Cameroon’s victory, the USA, Colombia and the Netherlands — all already on four points — are assured of participation in the Round of 16.

Switzerland, with three points, retains a qualifying chance as one of the four best third-placed finishers, but they will need to wait until group play concludes Wednesday before knowing if they have done enough to get another game in this Women’s World Cup.

Ana Maria Crnogorcevic put Switzerland on top in the first half, but Oguene scored once, then created another for Madeleine Ngono Mani as she led a storming attacking effort for her country.

There were always chances available in Commonwealth Stadium, but only Crnogorcevic managed to find the net in the opening 45 minutes. Her 24th minute goal was a simple 12-yard finish to a pass from Ramona Bachmann after the Cameroon defense had allowed far too much room for the Swiss to move the ball in the box.

Cameroon had their best first-half chances from Christine Mane, who flashed a 10-yard header past the right post, and Ongueme, who was beaten by a fine, brave, diving tackle from Gaelle Thalmann, who timed her run off the Swiss line perfectly in the 31st minute.

At the other end, Bachmann had a shot blocked well by Cameroon keeper Annette Ngo Ndom and Fabienne Humm saw her powerful header well-saved by the keeper as well.

It took just two minutes for Onguene to get Cameroon level in the second half even though she slipped as she struck home a 15-yard drive from the center of the box. This time it was the Swiss defense which allowed acres of space for the attack and finish and it signalled a complete change in the tone of the match.

Cameroon dominated the rest of the way against a Swiss defense that had difficulty marking in the box and clearing effectively. The Europeans’ midfield did not retain enough possession to lift the siege and only some wayward finishing delayed the second goal.

It came in the 62nd minute when Oguene powered her way to the right byline before cutting back a near-post pass that was headed strongly home by Ngono Mani, who powered the ball to the opposite corner just minutes after she had come on as a substitute.

Another surging run by Onguene nearly produced a third goal in the 70th minute, but Thalmann slid back across her goal to kick away a drive from Francine Zouga that appeared destined for the near left corner of the Swiss goal.

The Swiss raised their game in the final minutes, but Cameroon’s defense stayed solid, Bachmann having perhaps the best chance blocked away at the right side in the 88th minute.