AL WAKRAH, Qatar (AP) – Breel Embolo’s goal propelled Switzerland to a 1-0 win over Cameroon at the World Cup on Thursday and he kept his promise not to celebrate goals against his native country.
The Swiss striker from Yaounde scored with a right-footed shot in the 48th minute and stood alone eight meters (yards) from goal to accept Xherdan Shaqiri’s low pass.
Embolo then pursed his lips in a lopsided smile and spread his arms before raising his hands in a gesture of apology as teammates rushed towards him near the penalty spot.
He pointed to the Swiss fans behind the goal where he scored, then to the Cameroonian fans on the opposite corner of Al Janoub Stadium.
The 25-year-old forward left Cameroon with his family when he was five. They spent time in France before settling in Switzerland, the country he is now representing at a second World Cup.
Despite an African-born player scoring a goal, teams from Africa are now goalless in the four games they have played at this World Cup. All have played against higher-ranked sides, and Morocco and Tunisia drew 0-0 with Croatia and Denmark respectively.
Cameroon’s losing streak in World Cup finals spanned eight games, dating back to 2002.
Brazil and Serbia are also in Group G and will meet later on Thursday.
When Embolo shot on target, it was too easy for the Swiss to quickly play the ball through the Cameroonian defenses from left to right.
Switzerland’s quick start to the second half contrasted with a lack of urgency in the first half that could hardly be explained by the 1pm kick-off – one of just seven games in Qatar to be played entirely in daylight. The heat peaked at 84 Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius), the humidity was low and most of the playing area was in shadow.
Cameroon missed a clear scoring chance to take the lead in the 10th minute. A long, straight pass past the Swiss centre-backs resulted in Karl Toko Ekambi firing a half-volley high over the bar from just 10 yards.
Cameroon applied little pressure to level the game. Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa’s header in the 66th minute was aimed directly at goalkeeper Yann Sommer, who made an easy save.
In the next game, a Swiss almost repeated the goal from the right flank, but goalkeeper Andre Onana saved from Ruben Vargas.
The great Cameroonian Roger Milla was paraded on the field before the game. Fans were shown a video montage of his goals at the 1990 World Cup, where Cameroon became the first African team to reach the quarter-finals.
Milla was joined by Samuel Eto’o, Cameroon’s tallest player who now heads the Football Association. Eto’o scored the only goal when Cameroon last won the World Cup – 1-0 against Saudi Arabia in 2002.
REST DAY OF THE REFEREE
Referee Facundo Tello was having a quieter day than when he sent off ten players in Argentina just before arriving in Qatar. After a brawl in extra time, he red carded seven players from Boca Juniors and three from Racing Club. Here Tello showed three yellow cards and no red card. It was the 13th game at the World Cup and no player has been sent off.
Next, Switzerland meet Group H favorites Brazil in Doha on Monday night. Cameroon meet Serbia on the same day.
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