Well, it was time for the Danes to show their real nature. Unfortunately for Cameroon, they chose the match against them to come out as a fast, clinical and efficient side. It ended Denmark 2, Cameroon 1.
Cameroon have become the first country to crash out of the World Cup after losing their second match in Group E against Denmark in Pretoria on Saturday night. It was an entertaining match, with both sides throwing caution to the wind as they sought to register their first win of the tournament. Ultimately, Denmark converted their chances and made slightly fewer mistakes in their defending.
Both coaches had clearly given their players instructions to go for broke tonight, but both teams made the mistake of leaving gaping holes in their defence. In the 10th minute, the Danish defenders literally gave the ball away to Cameroon right in front of their own goal: Christian Poulsen’s mistake granted Samuel Eto’o a clear shot on goal, and he did brilliantly to slot a shot past Thomas Sorensen. Achille Emana came close to putting Cameroon two ahead on several occasions. Paul Le Guen’s decision to play Samuel Eto’o in the centre, as opposed to the side, gave Cameroon the teeth in attack they lacked against Japan. In the first half, the Cameroonian captain was also unlucky to thump a shot against the Danish upright.
The Danes weren’t quiet either, and the weaknesses in Cameroon’s defence were eventually exposed in the 33rd minute, when Dennis Rommedahl set Nicklas Bendtner up for a goal. It was a well-engineered goal, but also a bad mistake from Hamidou Souleymanou, who should have done better to clear the cross.
The second half was more of the same, with both teams attacking in force, and making very silly errors in defence. The Cameroonian side tired under the Danish onslaught, with Benoit Assou Ekotto visibly fatigued, but Le Guen opted not to substitute him. The Danes sealed the game in the 63rd minute with a great effort from Thomas Rommedahl that curled around Souleymanou’s outstretched hands.
The defeat may have been cruel to the Cameroonians, but the Danes were better side in this game. They face the Japanese next, and will have to organise their defence far better if they want to keep their hopes of reaching the last 16 alive.
As for Cameroon, their failure to qualify is also Africa’s sorrow. Let’s hope we get better news in the coming days from other African teams, starting with Ivory Coast tomorrow.
Here are the reporter’s notes:
Cameroon: Hamidou Souleymanou, Stephane Mbia, Sebastien Bassong, Nicolas N’Koulou, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Geremi, Enoh Eyong, Alexandre Song, Achille Emana, Achille Webo, Samuel Eto’o.
Denmark: Thomas Sorensen, Simon Poulsen, Daniel Agger, Simon Kjaer, Lars Jacobsen; Dennis Rommedahl, Christian Poulsen, Martin Jorgensen, Jesper Gronkjaer; Jon Dahl Tomasson, Nicklas Bendtner.
Man of the match
Before the match
Paul Le Guen has made three changes to the Cameroon squad that lost against Japan. Geremi, Achille Emana and Alexandre Song all start.
Veteran striker Jon Dahl Tomasson and Jesper Gronkjaer start for Denmark in place of Thomas Kahlenberg and Thomas Enevoldsen.
Why do they insist on coming right up into the football players’ faces with the camera during the national anthems? The reason these 22 men are on the field is not their singing prowess.
- 3rd minute: What was that? Geremi Njitap pulls a Danish player down on the edge of the Danish penalty area. As if we haven’t seen enough cards in this World Cup.
- 5th minute: The crowd at Loftus Versfeld is really behind Cameroon. The crowd roars and the vuvuzelas blare as Samuel Eto’o gets a shot at goal, but it goes wide.
- 7th minute: Dennis Rommedahl unleashes a rocket of a shot, but it is struck too high.
Neither of these sides can afford a loss here tonight, and the play shows it. Hard tackles and hard running from both sides.
- 10th minute: Eto’o puts Cameroon ahead. Christian Poulsen gave the ball away to Achille Webo who set Eto’o up for a shot. There never was any question really once the Cameroonian captain had a clear sight on goal. Good strike, but it’s thanks to an unspeakable blunder from the Danish defender as well.
- 13th minute: Achille Emana comes within inches of putting Cameroon two up with a shot that skitters across the surface and through the Danish defence. Fortunately for Thomas Sorensen, the shot is wide.
- 16th minute: Gronkjaer tries a shot from distance but it deflects off a Cameroonian defender for a cross.
Samuel Eto’o is playing in a more familiar position tonight, in the centre rather than off to the right. The difference is obvious. Cameroon look extremely dangerous whenever they go forward.
- 20th minute: Tomasson gets a good ball in front of poles, but Hamidou Souleymanou charges forward and deflects the shot back into the field.
Looks like both keepers are in for a busy evening.
- 28th minute: Achille Emana makes a good run in but shoots wide.
- 29th minute: Lars Jacobsen fancies his chances with a long shot in which goes off to the right of the Cameroonian goal posts.
- 31st minute: Cameroon are all over the Danish penalty area. So are the Danish defenders.
- 33rd minute: Dennis Rommedahl controls a long shot from Simon Kjaer and sets Nicklas Bendtner up for a shot. The lanky Arsenal striker only has to touch it into goal. 1 – 1.
What was Souleymanou doing there? He came off his line far too late, dove far too late and gifted Bendtner an absolute sitter.
- 37th minute: Geremi Njitap fires a cross into the Danish goal but can’t find his captain. Perhaps too much force in that cross, but good thinking nonetheless.
- 40th minute: Geremi with another cross that doesn’t find a team mate.
- 41st minute: Alex Song makes a mistake and gives the ball to Rommedahl, who makes a promising run, shoots and has his shot saved by Souleymanou, which falls for Tomasson. The Danish defender’s shot strikes a Cameroonian defender.
- 42nd minute: Absolutely horrendous defending from Denmark grants Eto’o a shot. The Cameroonian captain smacks the shot against the left Danish upright post. Emana has a shot in as well, but Sorensen does well to save it.
Both sides are defending horribly.
End of the first half.
It’s been one of the livelier matches of the World Cup so far.
Cameroon are not going to have a quiet second half.
A couple of substitutions in the second half – Denmark have replaced Martin Jorgensen with Denis Jensen. Cameroon have swapped Enoh Eyong, who has trouble with his eye, for Jean Makoun.
- 46th minute: Stephane Mbia’s header is sent over the poles by Sorensen.
- 48th minute: Benoit Assou Ekotto has a shot on goal, but it doesn’t reach Sorensen’s goals.
- 49th minute: Sebastian Bessong gets a yellow card for a tackle on Bendtner.
- 50th minute: Souleymanou does well to tip a shot from Simon Kjaer over the poles.
- 54th minute: Jensen tries to set Bendtner up for a header, but the tall Dane struggles to control the ball. Goal kick for Cameroon.
This will be won by whichever team has fewer errors in defence. The ball is going from end to end very quickly.
- 58th minute: Eto’o sets Achille Webo up for a shot from an acute angle, but the big Cameroonian’s effort is disappointing.
- 60th minute: Geremi Njitap overshoots another cross trying to find Webo.
- 60th minute: Webo tries to turn and shoots, but Sorensen saves it.
- 61st minute: Dennis Rommedahl curves a shot around Souleymanou for a goal! Poor defence from Makoun there.
- 63rd minute: Another effort for Webo, another header goes wide.
Paul Le Guen must be so frustrated right now. This is nerve-wracking for the Frenchman.
- 65th minute: Cameroon are under intense pressure, having to pass the ball back right to the keeper on several occasions.
- 65th minute: Makoun fires a shot high. Eto’o did well to set that one up.
- 66th minute: Substitution. Thomas Kahlenberg comes on for Gronkjaer.
Assou Ekotto is getting slower and slower.
- 69th minute: Emana fires wide.
- 70th minute: Rommedahl passes to Tomasson, who sees his shot saved by Souleymanou.
- 72nd minute: Mahamadou Idrissou comes on for Sebastien Bassong. Interesting change: a forward player for a back player.
- 74th minute: Alex Song dances away from a diving Danish defender and shoots high.
- 75th minute: Yellow card to Stephane Mbia for a harsh tackle on a Danish player.
It has been hard play, but very clean.
- 77th minute: Emana goes one-on-one with Sorensen, and fails to get it past the Danish keeper. Good low shot.
- 78th minute: Vincent Aboubakar comes on for Pierre Webo.
- 79th minute: Idrissou gets a good opportunity to knock a corner in with his head, but it goes too high for him. Sorensen was completely blocked off.
You get the sense that Cameroon are slowly running out of ideas.
- 81st minute: Bendtner gets an opportunity for a shot, but it’s weak and poses no threat for Souleymanou.
- 82nd minute: Aboubakar’s shot is blocked by Christian Poulsen.
- 83rd minute: Jakob Poulsen comes on for Tomasson.
- 85th minute: Aboubakar’s header goes high.
- 85th minute: Yellow card to Sorensen for taking a kick too quickly.
- 86th minute: Aboubakar has yet another shot in, which deflects off a Danish defender.
- 87th minute: Yellow card to Simon Kjaer for a foul on Aboubakar. Geremi’s free kick is weak.
- 88th minute: Eto’o tries to fire a corner in, but is blocked. Cameroon haven’t given up.
- 89th minute: A cross by Assou Ekotto is headered down by Idrissou.
- 91st minute: Geremi’s cross is caught by Sorensen.
Cameroon is camped in Denmark’s half, but with precious little to show for it.
End of the second half.
The Cameroonian players are absolutely devastated.
By Sipho Hlongwane
Photo: Cameroon’s head coach Paul Le Guen of France looks on before the start of the 2010 World Cup Group E soccer match between Denmark and Cameroon at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria June 19, 2010. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
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