Cameroon was winning. Then, it was losing. Then, it was winning again. The 3-3 shootout was a rollercoaster of emotions, to say the least. There were 28 total shots, four yellow cards and some of the biggest drama of the World Cup.
It began with Jean-Charles Castellano’s 29th-minute strike to give Cameroon an early lead. Olympiacos midfielder Pierre Kunde sent a big corner towards a huge horde of players. Somehow, the ball made its way to an unmarked Castellano, who tapped in the game’s first goal.
The Indomitable Lions‘ lead did not last long. Serbia’s Strahinja Pavlović lost Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa on a Dušan Tadić free kick and knocked a header past goalkeeper Devis Epassy. Serbia doubled their goal count with Andrija Živković’s calculated pass to Sergej Milinković-Savić, who sent a weak shot past Epassy just before halftime ended.
Serbia looked like it would kill the game following a passing sequence that looked like they were just toying with their prey. Tadić dribbled down the box before laying it off to Aleksandar Mitrović, who switched to Milinković-Savić. The Lazio man beat a defender before passing to Živković, who found Mitrović, and his second assist of the day, right in front of the goal.
Attack carries Cameroon to key 3-3 draw against Serbia
Vincent Aboubakar’s appearance in the 64th minute changed everything. Castelletto launched a long ball that Aboubakar latched onto. He beat a Serbian defender at the edge of the box off a counter-attack, dragged the ball back, and sent an impeccable chip over Vanja Milinković-Savić to make the game 2-3 for Cameroon.
Again striking off a counter-attack just two minutes, Aboubakar threatened goal on the right flank. His proximity to the goal and free space all around him forced the sole defender to mark him. The Al-Nassr striker then switched the ball back to Choupo-Moting, who scored to make the game 3-3.
Although Mitrovic nearly scored several times to give the game its seventh(!!) goal, Cameroon clung on to its sole point. Although impressive, the draw puts Cameroon at a massive disadvantage. Cameroon now needs a win against Brazil and favorable results from the Serbia-Switzerland game to have any chance of moving to the knockout round.
Onana out of the squad
Andre Onana was the key player for Cameroon’s squad; the engine that could the Indomitable Lions roar. So it was very surprising when news came out that Onana left Qatar and dropped out of the team. Onana is dedicated to the team; he has over 34 caps and led Cameroon to third place at AFCON. So why would he drop out?
Renowned source Fabrizio Romano reported that manager Rigobert Song kicked Onana out of the starting lineup due to his sweeper-keeper style of play. He protested, and Song fired back with an indefinite suspension from the national team until he agreed to change his playstyle. But that’s the thing; Onana is known for his involvement in defense. He makes his name off of his high amount of touches. So, he dropped out, and Song started Epassy.
Of course, we know how it turned out. Defensive blunders turned to offensive brilliance helped save the day and prevent elimination for Cameroon, but some may feel that with the Inter stopper, Cameroon would win the game.
You can only guess how Cameroon’s game with Brazil will go without Onana. There is always the possibility of a shock upset like Cameroon almost pulled off against Serbia. But, without the shot-stopping Song has come to expect, Cameroon will surely have a rough time.
Aboubakar makes his case for a starting spot
Where one player leaves, another steps up.
Why did Song bench Aboubakar? Why isn’t he playing the full 90? Vincent Aboubakar gave both questions life when he scored once and assisted once to turn the Cameroon game against Serbia on its head.
His decision to leave Aboubakar on the bench is questionable to say the least, especially as Aboubakar played a key role in Cameroon’s AFCON and World Cup qualifying campaigns. He also brings something that Cameroon desperately need: an aerial presence. He holds up the ball, converts big chances and gives Cameroon an extra layer of offense.
Not starting Aboubakar before was disagreeable. He is a key player, experienced and, although aging, is still a proficient goal-scorer. Now, benching Aboubakar is foolish. He just scored a goal and assisted for Cameroon in a crucial game the minute he stepped on the field. How could you not try to replicate that in Thursday’s game with Brazil?
Aboubakar should start next game for Cameroon due to his impressive performance against Serbia. Yet, the Indomitable Lions need another masterclass from the vetted forward.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Agencia MexSport
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