Breel Embolo grew up in Basel, however he was born in Cameroon’s capital, Yaoundé, and didn’t obtain Swiss citizenship till eight years in the past. That explains why the Monaco ahead kept away from celebrating one of many easiest, but doubtlessly most vital, objectives he’ll ever rating.
In a clumsy group additionally that includes Brazil and Serbia, this was a sport Switzerland wanted to win and, within the forty eighth minute, Embolo ensured it could show mission completed.
It was not Embolo’s fault his six-yard end drove a stake by Cameroonian hearts because the probabilities of their crew progressing past the group stage for the primary time since Italia 90 receded appreciably.
“Football writes these tales,” Murat Yakin, the Swiss coach, mentioned. “I informed Breel: ‘Cameroon are your pals however they’re your opponents too.’ I’m completely happy together with his efficiency.”
The opening week of Qatar 2022 has showcased loads of intricate passing, clever motion and generally kaleidoscopic positional interchange however Cameroon launched a retro theme, reminding everybody that crashing balls into the corners has not essentially had its day.
The gameplan was centered closely on getting the ball lengthy and early to Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting. The Bayern Munich striker stays acquainted to his former public at Stoke, and so does Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri. Now with Chicago Fire, Shaqiri, who additionally retains a sure fan membership at Liverpool, is Switzerland’s artistic catalyst however took time to get going.
Shaqiri’s each first-half maneuver was closely shadowed by Cameroon’s left-back, Nouhou Tolo. When Shaqiri switched wings he skilled related therapy from Collins Fai.
Such early struggles dictated that though the Indomitable Lions didn’t all the time get their very own approach in a central midfield staffed for Switzerland by Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka and Nottingham Forest’s Remo Freuler, they had been incessantly free to focus on feeding Choupo-Moting.
Yakin had left Newcastle’s Fabian Schär on the bench and as an alternative paired Nico Elvedi and Manchester City’s Manuel Akanji in central protection. Choupo-Moting, earlier than fading, reveled in subjecting that pair to an intensive exercise, on one event flicking the ball past Akanji solely to shoot tepidly at Yann Sommer.
An even higher probability arrived when Brentford’s Bryan Mbeumo – whose right-sided advances sporadically threatened – unleashed a shot that Sommer parried into the trail of the well-placed Karl Toko Ekambi, whose effort veered wildly off track. Otherwise, Toko Ekambi discovered himself effectively, and intelligently, marked by Silvan Widmer.
Rigobert’s Song’s techniques could have been straight out of the Sam Allardyce playbook however because the spectacular Sommer saved once more, this time from Martin Hongla, Switzerland seemed rattled. By half-time they’d barely threatened, failing to muster an effort on track. Moreover, Cameroon’s key midfielder, Napoli’s André-Frank Zambo Anguissa, had completed the primary 45 minutes strongly and seemed able to disrupting the Freuler-Xhaka axis.
Yet for all Cameroon’s high-pressing, full-back-propelled counterattacking, their protection seemed a bundle of nerves on these, admittedly strictly rationed, events Switzerland delivered the ball into their penalty space.
From one such incursion within the forty fifth minute they need to have scored however Akanji botched an inviting headed opening after assembly Freuler’s nook.
Maybe that miss galvanized Switzerland, who emerged for the second half in altogether slicker, sharper passing mode and had been swiftly rewarded when Embolo struck.
With the protection having misplaced focus, Shaqiri was allowed to capitalize on good strategy work from Xhaka and Freuler and despatched a low cross curving in direction of the equally unattended scorer. All that remained was for Embolo, who has established a charity basis serving to refugees in Switzerland and deprived kids in Cameroon, to stroke the ball house from six yards earlier than that emotionless response.
It was Switzerland’s first shot on track and, briefly, the African drums and vuvuzelas – which had been making fairly a noise on the Doha metro early on Thursday – fell silent.
The soundtrack had resumed by the point Zambo Anguissa’s excellent interception prevented Embolo from registering one other goal and André Onana’s fabulous diving save denied Ruben Vargas.
After that Switzerland retreated deep, packing their protection. With Choupo-Moting a shadow of his first-half self, Cameroon might discover no approach by.
“It’s tough to lose a sport we dominated within the first half,” Song mentioned. “I really feel disenchanted however we’ve solely three gamers with earlier World Cup expertise – and there are two extra video games.”