Chelsea In Qatar – Switzerland v Cameroon
Switzeland 1 – 0 Cameroon
(Group G, Al Janoub Stadium, 24/11/2022)
FIFA rankings for Switzerland and Cameroon are 15 and 43 respectively. The Swiss would have come into the game with high expectations after good recent results and their manager Yakin labelling his squad as the best Swiss team ever. It was an important game to win as both sides would later have to face highly fancied, in form Brazil.
Denis Zakaria was the only Chelsea player involved in the match. Starting on the bench, he was an unused substitute.
Cameroon’s first presentable opportunity came when Hongla, on the left deep in his own half, cut inside Freuler before hitting a long ball down the left channel. Mbeumo sprinted between Akanji and Elvedi taking the ball into the area. Despite the angle Mbuemo chose to shoot. Sommer beat the shot out straight to Toko-Ekambi who put the rebound over the bar. Choupo-Moting had run in late and was screaming for the ball near the penalty spot, but defenders would probably have cut out any attempt to get the ball to him. Then Elvedi, in a central position on the halfway line, risked heading the ball back to Akanji. Choupo-Moting ran in to steal the ball knocking it inside, and going outside, the Swiss defender. Running on he shot from just outside the 6-yard box with Akanji just getting back to make a challenge. Akanji did just enough to unbalance Choupo-Moting, his shot being saved quite comfortably by Sommer. Hongla, in a central position inside the Swiss half, initiated Cameroon’s next good chance by stroking the ball out to Fai Collins on the right. Fai Collins sent the ball down the line to Mbeumo who played a slick one-two with Choupo-Moting. Mbueno fed a diagonal pass left into the path of Hongla who took the ball on, sending a cross shot through the legs of Akanji before the defender could tackle. Though the shot was not that powerful, Sommer spilt the ball which was knocked clear by Widmer before Toko-Ekambi could get to it.
Switzerland’s first real opportunity came when, out on the right midway inside the Cameroon half, Casteletto was caught in possession by Embolo. The ball broke to Sow who pushed the ball towards the penalty area for Embolo to run on to. Chasing Embolo, Casteletto recovered well enough to make a tackle. From the resultant Vargas corner Elvedi got behind Toto and in front of Oum Gouet only to head wide. Later, Shaqiri our right near the penalty area pushed the ball out wider for the overlapping Widmer. His cross was met by Embolo who only managed to head it straight upwards. The ball fell to Oum Gouet who put it out for a corner. From Vargas’ kick, Akanji evaded Nkoulou and Toto only to glance the free header wide – possibly the best opportunity the Swiss had created.
Shortly after half time, a Switzerland goal came following the best move of the match so far. Rodriguez, on the left a little way inside his own half, pushed the ball down the line to Vargas who flicked it inside to Xhaka. Xhaka’s diagonal ball inside found Freuler in a central position. Freuler sent another diagonal ball forward to Shaqiri running in from the right wing. Shaquiri met the ball at the edge of the box and centred it first time. Embolo, effectively unmarked between three defenders, hit the ball home first time from about 9 yards out. Embolo didn’t celebrate his goal – he was born in Cameroon, emigrating with his family aged six.
Elvedi challenged Mbueno just outside the box with the loose ball running right to Choupo-Moting. His run along the right edge of the box took him to the goal line where he cut inside Akanji. With many defenders preventing a cut back, he ran along the line poking the ball towards Sommer’s near post before Rodriguez could put in a proper challenge. Sommer saved the ambitious but weak attempt to squeeze the ball home.
Akanji cleared to find Shaqiri on the right wing a few yards short of halfway. He played it to Widmer who ran powerfully deep into the Cameroon half to centre from a position similar to that of Shaqiri’s in the build-up for the Swiss goal. The ball reached Vargas in a central position similar to the one from which Embolo had scored. Vargas’ fierce strike produced an excellent save from Onana who pushed the ball round the post for a corner. Shaqiri’s kick was aimed at Embolo at the far post. At full stretch Anguissa, with Embolo right behind him, just managed to divert the ball narrowly away over the angle. It was a critical intervention. Had the ball reached Embolo, he would almost certainly have scored.
Finally, in the final minute of added time, Seferovic (on for Embolo) took advantage of a mix-up between two Cameroon defenders, running into the area from the right. With composure he cut inside Casteletto to shoot only to see the defender, diving in to block the shot.
Cameroon’s manager Song was no doubt disappointed that his team came away with nothing to show for all their enterprise. The Swiss will have been delighted to gain three points.
Posted by the CSG’s World Cup Willie
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