Cameroon stages World Cup comeback after dropping goalkeeper
Cameroon had lost its opening two matches of the tournament, including a 3-0 defeat to South Africa and a 5-2 loss to England. But the nation managed to salvage a draw with the Black Cagers on Wednesday night in a game that came down to a pivotal shot in extra time: Cameroon had been in front after five minutes, but had their two goals erased by a penalty kick from Jordan Pickford in the dying seconds.
The goalkeeper, who had also come off the bench, beat two defenders and calmly scored from six meters out – a moment that led to a 5-4 victory for Nigeria.
In the shootout against Nigeria, Cameroon showed that it still had what it takes to pull off a comeback. It was the first time a goalkeeper had scored a penalty in the World Cup, and it was the first time a goalkeeper had scored in nine years. The team that came in second in their group, the 2014 Brazilians, had none of those three.
This is the latest chapter in a story that began June 26, with Cameroon’s victory over Nigeria in a group match. Then they lost their opening match against England, and then they lost their lone semifinal, to South Africa.
Their chances of progressing to the quarterfinals were fading, as the team had lost all three of their group matches. Their chances of earning another spot in the knockout stages were also fading, as they had lost both the first two matches of their tournament. And there was a question of making the knockout stage without their goalkeeper, who would not last the first game of the knockout stage, against Germany.
This is what unfolded before Cameroon’s fans.
Cameroon has been underdogs for most of the World Cup. But against Nigeria, they were the team that had the upper hand. Cameroon had just three shots, and five chances, but Nigeria had all those chances, and scored two goals.
Nigeria took a 1-0 lead after nine minutes, with a goal from forward Michael Udenho. The goal drew an angry crowd in Cameroon.
Cameroon then had two chances in the 22nd minute. After Nigeria defender Kelechi Iheanacho brought down Nigeria midfielder Paul Okon on a corner kick, Cameroon took a penalty kick, and it was picked off by goalkeeper Richard Kingson.