Cameroon’s national football team defeated South Africa 1-0 in their opening fixture at the CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations holding in Namibia on a weekend when the men’s national team drew 0-0 with Sierra Leone in Yaounde.
The Lionesses scored at the 87th minute through 18-year-old Raissa Feudjio who stuck a leg and guided the ball into the net, taking advantage of poor handling by the Banyana Banyana goalkeeper. Cameroon started the game well with early strikes but most of the efforts were off target. The South Africans reacted and showed determination with attacking swagger of their own. The exciting first-half however ended goalless. The second-half was not as exciting from an attacking perspective but it was full of impressive defensive performances from the centre-backs of both sides.
Just as the handful of fans at the stadium began to think the game would end in a stalemate, Cameroon stepped on the accelerator obtaining a couple of corners and free-kicks. One the corner-kicks paid off. Ougene took an in-swinger that seemed to surprise the South African keeper. She could not decide whether to punch or catch the ball and fumbled. Her poor second attempt to make a save sent the ball crashing on the head of one of her defenders who headed towards Feudjio. The latter struck the only goal of the game.
The Lionesses’ win over a direct rival for qualification to the next round of the competition brought out celebratory dance moves from the players, head coach Enaw Ngatchou and his staff. The team is in a tough group that also features Algeria and Ghana.
The Lionesses have surely shown the way forward to their male counterparts who were held to a draw on Saturday in Yaounde by Sierra Leone. The Indomitable Lions remain top of their group with seven points but are closely followed by the Elephants of Côte d’Ivoire who defeated the Leopards of Congo (DRC) 2-1 to rise to six points. DRC have 3 points after two defeats and one victory.
Cameroon could mathematically qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations on Wednesday if they defeat Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire also win their game versus the DRC. Cameroon would have 10 points and would only be possibly overtaken by the Ivorians and given that the top two teams progress to the tournament which is scheduled for Morocco, it would mark the Lions return after missing out twice (in 2012 and 2013).
But all of that is yet to come. Today, the focus should be on the Lionesses who worked hard to earn their win. The Cameroonians had 13 shots at goal with 4 on target including Feudjio’s winner. The CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations kicked-off on Saturday with favorites Nigeria trouncing Côte d’Ivoire 4-2 while the hosts Namibia defeated Zambia 2-0.