Cameroon were defeated 1-0 by Switzerland in their opening fixture at the 2022 World Cup. Breel Embolo’s 48th minute strike earnt the victory from a low cross from Xherdan Shaqiri. However, there is much significance about the identity of the scorer, as Embolo was born in Cameroon.Embed from Getty Images
He was born in the Cameroonian capital Yaounde, before he moved to France when he was five. His mother met a Swiss husband which saw them relocate to Basel. After starting his international career playing in the Switzerland youth teams, in 2014, Embolo received Swiss citizenship. After scoring against Cameroon, he did not celebrate out of respect for his heritage. He is the first player in World Cup history to score against his nation of birth.
The loss extends Cameroon’s dismal World Cup form, as they remain winless since 2002 where they beat Saudi Arabia 1-0. This means they only have four wins in their last twenty-three World Cup matches. The 1990 World Cup was the last time Cameroon progressed out the group stages, eventually losing to England in the quarter finals, thanks to a penalty scored by Gary Lineker after extra time to seal a 3-2 victory.Embed from Getty Images
It’s not all doom and gloom as Cameroon have a lot of talent to utilise. Eric Choupo-Moting has scored six goals in ten Bundesliga games for Bayern Munich this season, Bryan Mbeumo is a regular starter for Brentford in the Premier League and Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa is reinventing his career at Napoli after a disappointing spell at Fulham. With the results that Japan and Saudi Arabia have pulled off so far this tournament there is no reason for Cameroon to not believe they can replicate that.
Switzerland will be looking forward to their encounter with Brazil, whom they will see as the main hurdle to progressing, along with Serbia. They are capable of causing an upset as they showed at Euro 2020, beating world champions France on penalties in the round of sixteen. They will be looking to improve on their last two World Cup campaigns, losing in the round of 16 both times. For them to reach that stage again they will have to prevail in this tough group, along with tournament favourites Brazil and Serbia, like in 2018.Embed from Getty Images
This loss leaves Cameroon in desperate need of a victory when they play Serbia in their next fixture, while a defeat could leave them all but eliminated from the tournament, depending on the other result.
In the qualifying for the tournament, Switzerland were surprised winners of their group. They finished above Euro 2020 winners Italy, whom failed to qualify through the play-offs. They qualified after an unbeaten qualifying campaign, in a group also including Northern Ireland, Bulgaria and Lithuania. Cameroon had a difficult third round qualifier against Algeria, where they won on away goals to book their place at Qatar.