It was more of an exhibition match than anything else. The Dutchmen were already through to the final round. Cameroon were already out. There really was nothing to play for. And yet it was Cameroon’s most emphatic showing in this tournament. It ended The Netherlands 2, Cameroon 1.
You have to wonder why Paul Le Guen’s men left it to the last match to give their best. This performance would have seen them win against the Danes, maybe even the Japanese. Perhaps. Who knows? If only. Words that get bandied about quite a bit in football lexicon, but words that more often than not mean the difference between winner and loser in this World Cup.
Cameroon get to go home early – but the Dutch have a last 16 fixture against Slovakia. We’ve seen the Eastern Europeans deliver a defeat to the defending champions Italy. Dutch have their work cut out for them. Slovakia have proven to be defensively naive, but very dangerous on attack. From their side, Cameroon have failed to show up the weaknesses in the Dutch defence – aside from perhaps the Dutch players’ collective short fuse – and this might prompt the Netherlands to go into the next round with an unwarranted sense of confidence. They are one of two sides so far to make it through to the last 16 with all the points won. And yet, their next round experience might be entirely less pleasant.
Here are this reporter’s notes:
Cameroon: Hamidou Souleymanou, Stephane Mbia, Landry Nguemo, Nicolas N’Koulou, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Geremi, Jean Makoun, Alexandre Song, Samuel Eto’o, Eric Choupo-Moting, Gaetan Bong.
Netherlands: Maarten Stekelenburg, Khalid Boulahrouz, John Heitinga, Joris Mathijsen, Giovanni van Bronckhorst; Dirk Kuyt, Mark van Bommel, Wesley Sneijder, Nigel de Jong, Rafael van der Vaart; Robin van Persie.
Referee: Pablo Pozo (Chile)
- 8th minute: Hamidou Souleymanou is going to have his hands full with Robin Van Persie in this match. He races forward to beat the Dutch striker to the ball.
- 15th minute: Great start to the match. A booking to Kuyt for a late tackle.
- 15th minute: Corner to Cameroon comes to naught.
- 19th minute: That was poor from van Persie. He got a lovely ball from Giovanni van Bronckhorst, and didn’t shoot well enough to beat Souleymanou.
- 24th minute: Sneijder fails to get a good shot off, his path blocked by Jean Makoun.
- 25th minute: Free kick to the Netherlands. Van der Vaart takes it, and opts to go for the direct kick. The low shot poses no worries for Souleymanou.
- 29th minute: Yellow card to Nicolas N’Koulou
- 31st minute: Great chance for Jean Makoun who gets up very high to beat Stekelenburg, but also beats the Dutch goal.
- 32nd minute: Kuyt strikes one on the far corner, but makes rather a meal of that effort. It wasn’t too far off, but a missed chance, nonetheless.
- 36th minute: Van Persie scores out of nothing. Kuyt crafted the move, allowing Van Persie to dart between the Cameroonian defenders and slip the ball between Souleymanou’s legs. It was an impossible angle, and a great goal.
- 41st minute: Eto’o receives a superb cross from Geremi, but fails to control his first touch, allowing Maarten Stekelenburg to reach the ball first.
The goal keeps getting better, every time I look at it. It was really a tight angle. Almost as good as Maicon’s goal for Brazil against North Korea.
- 42nd minute: Free kick to Cameroon. Great delivery by Geremi, but he finds only Dutch defenders with the ball.
- 45th minute: Eto’o is blocked again by Stekelenburg, who charges forward to deny the Cameroonian captain a chance.
Photo: Netherlands’ Robin van Persie (C) fights for the ball with Cameroon’s Gaetan Bong (2nd L) during a 2010 World Cup Group E soccer match at Green Point stadium in Cape Town June 24, 2010. REUTERS/Jerry Lampen
- 47th minute: Geremi gets too much length on his cross.
There’s been a batch of free kicks in this second half, with the game getting a bit too bogged down in the midfield for anyone’s liking.
- 51st minute: Van Persie gets a good run into the Cameroonian field, with virtually every defender behind him, but can’t get a good shot off.
- 54th minute: free kick to Netherlands yields no goal-scoring chances.
- 55th minute: Vincent Boubakar comes on for Gaetan Bong
- 58th minute: Van Persie comes off, and Klaas Jan Huntelaar will get a run.
- 59th minute: A probing run by Eto’o is blocked off by a Dutch defender.
- 61st minute: Makoun gets a break-away on the edge of the Dutch penalty box, and gets his shot away cleanly, but can’t beat Stekelenburg.
- 63rd minute: Free kick to Cameroon. Van Der Vaart pushes his arm far out and concedes a penalty.
- 65th minute: Eto’o takes the penalty and puts it away cleanly. Score!
Van der Vaart gets a yellow card for the handball.
- 66th minute: The Dutch bring Eljero Elia on for Dirk Kuyt.
- 67th minute: Cameroon concedes a free kick. Nigel de Jong connects with the ball at full stretch but shoots it wide.
- 69th minute: Giovanni van Bronckhorst gets a yellow card for an illegal tackle.
- 71st minute: Mohamadou Idrissou comes on for Eric Choupo-Moting.
- 72nd minute: The Dutch makes a substitution of their own, van der Vaart coming off for Arjen Robben.
- 73rd minute: A Cameroonian legend comes on: Rigobert Song will get his first action of the World Cup. He replaces Nicolas N’Koulou.
- 76th minute: Van Bommel gives away a free kick to Cameroon. It comes to naught.
- 81st minute: Yellow card to Stephane Mbia for a deliberate handball.
- 83rd minute: Well-worked goal by the Dutch. First is the through-ball by Sneijder, then the shot by Robben, which hits the upright and comes back into the field for Huntelaar to score.
- 86th minute: Good defending by Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who fends Robben off the ball. The Dutchman would have been on a one-on-one situation had the Tottenham man not got in the way.
- 89th minute: Mbia leans hard, very hard, into Klaas Jan Huntelaar in the penalty area, but the referee does not give a penalty.
- 91st minute: Elia bullets into the edge of the penalty area, and does very well to chip it into the penalty area for… no one at all.
End of the match.
By Sipho Hlongwane
Photo: Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o (R) celebrates after scoring a penalty against the Netherlands during a 2010 World Cup Group E soccer match at Green Point stadium in Cape Town June 24, 2010. REUTERS/Carlos Barria