Cameroon crack the Brazilian barrier for Africa
Five nations had tried. They’d had seven attempts between them. Those tilts had been led by continental demigods such as Roger Milla, Mustapha Hadji, Asamoah Gyan, Yaya Toure and Didier Drogba. Yet an African team had never beaten Brazil in the FIFA World Cup™. In truth, they’d never even come close.
A Seleção had won all seven of those games, scoring 20 goals and conceding just two in the process. Lusail Stadium would be the setting for statistic amplification.
Cameroon were, after all, on a run of one point from a possible 27 at the World Cup, coming close to equalling Mexico’s competition record for consecutive losses (nine). They’d registered just one victory – 1-0 over Saudi Arabia in 2002 – since Milla punished Rene Higuita and Colombia 32 years ago.
They didn’t have a player fit enough to lace the boots of Thomas N’Kono, Theophile Abega, Milla, Joseph-Antoine Bell, Patrick M’Boma or Samuel Eto’o. The Indomitable Lions weren’t so indomitable anymore.
Besides, Brazil hadn’t lost a group-stage game in 24 years and this wasn’t just any Brazil side. It was the tournament favourites. The beatdown would commence on Facundo Tello’s whistle. And so it did. Gabriel Martinelli began driving at them down the left. Antony was doing the same on the right.
They nevertheless ran into an indomitable wall. Goalkeeper Devis Epassy, and centre-backs Enzo Ebosse and Christopher Wooh, went into this tournament with 14 caps cumulatively, and all began it on the bench. They were all, however, infallible as Cameroon did the impossible: stopped Brazil scoring.
A save of the tournament contender by Ederson from Bryan Mbeumo looked to have ensured Brazil would also stop Cameroon scoring. Then, in second-half stoppage time, an exceptional Jerome Ngom Mbekeli cross was clinically headed into the bottom corner by Vincent Aboubakar.
Tello’s last whistle at the Lusail wrote an African miracle into the record books. An African side, at the eighth time of asking, had finally avoided defeat against Brazil. Furthermore, Cameroon had defeated the five-time world champions.
Unfortunately for the Indomitable Lions, four points in Group G was insufficient to sneak them through the survivors’ gate. Still, they can look back on one of the greatest results Africa has ever produced in this competition.
“I’m so proud of my players,” said Rigobert Song. “This is such a historic result. My players deserve all the congratulations. “Of course we have regrets. We wanted to go through. But we also need to look on the positive side.
This is a huge result for Cameroon, for Africa. “I have been trying to instil a team spirit, a lion’s spirit, and I think you could see this. We go home, but we go home having beaten Brazil and shown that we are a match for anyone.” Aboubakar added: “It’s a shame the other result didn’t go our way, but we can go home with our heads held high. It had been years since Cameroon achieved a victory in the World Cup.
“It was a great win and I’m sure this result will set us up well for the future. We have good, young players and now we must wait for 2026.”
The wait for World Cup number 23 will be nothing compared to Africa’s wait for victory over Brazil. Thirty-six years of hurt came to an end on 2 December 2022. The Indomitable Lions finally conquered the indomitable.