The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, winners of the Africa Cup of Nations, completed their participation in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup with a loss to the German National Football Team, the current World Cup champions.
The match was played in Sochi, a Russian football town that has recently experienced a fair share of controversy as the local club has decided to exit the national league due to major financial problems. The Lions knew that this was a match of last hope due to their less than desirable record of one draw and one loss in the group stage. Making it to the semifinals would have meant scoring three goals against the German squad with a victory.
During the first half, Cameroon was clearly the best team. Although only a few fans in the Sochi Fisht stadium actually wore the national colors, the Russian fans in attendance were clearly supportive of the African underdogs. The German starting lineup did not feature too many stars as manager Joachim Low intends to build a new national team. A similar situation was seen in Cameroon, although the reason only a few star Lions flew to Russia was due to infighting within the national football federation.
Cameroonian goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa did not see much action in the first half because the Germans did not actually manage to produce any dangerous plays. Joachim Low was seething in the sidelines as the Lions kept probing the goalposts defended by Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
After a first half without goals, Cameroon had a chance to at least win the match if not the right to advance to the semifinal round; alas, a locker room play executed by Kerem Demirbay opened the scoreboard within three minutes. The Lions focused more on their offense and managed to create a dangerous situation for ter Stegen, who plays in the Spanish League with Barcelona. At the 67-minute mark, however, Timo Werner scored the second goal for Germany.
The contentious Video Assistant Referee system would be put to the test in this match with a dubious red card for Ernest Mabouka due to a foul in the air against a German defender. The referee showed a yellow card against the wrong player, which would be later elevated to a red card. In the end, the referee had to review the play on the monitor once again, and he ejected Mabouka.
Vincent Aboubakar was one of the most goal-hungry Lions, and he was able to make history as he somehow stole the ball away from ter Stegen with a header to the net.
For Cameroon, the Confederations Cup has been a learning experience. The Lions look solid enough to return to Russia next year for the FIFA World Cup, and the young players have about 12 months to relive the glory of the legendary Cameroonian team led by Roger Milla at the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy.