The second round of matches Group B of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia got started with a key encounter for the Indomitable Lions of Cameroons, a team that is representing the football prowess of the Mother Continent. The Lions faced the Australian National Football Team, and both squads knew that losing or even drawing the match would diminish their chances of staying in the tournament. Both teams started off a little guarded and hoping that they could take advantage of counterattacks that did not materialize. The Australian Socceroos took the initiative of making plays from the midfield, but they encountered a solid African defense, which turned into physical play that the Lions clearly won. Cameroonian star Bassogog began to strike forcefully with offensive fouls on his way to the box.
The first goal of the match was scored by the Lions on a sneaky play that took advantage of a physically spent Australian backline. It was a well-deserved goal for Cameroon on the final minute of the first half. The Socceroos tried to exert pressure in the second half, but they were too busy defending against the young Lions, who squandered a golden opportunity to score a second goal before the 60-minute mark. A lone incursion by an Australian player into the box resulted in a penalty that was initially challenged by the controversial Video Assistant Referee, which continues to be tested by FIFA. This may have been Fabrice Ondoa’s chance to become a national hero as he guessed the direction of the kick; alas, it was clean for a 1 – 1 score.
Managing Coach Hugo Broos opted to defend the draw for a few minutes until he substituted a Cameroonian striker for the final push at the 75-minute mark. Australia took chances and went on the offensive, but neither team was able to break the tie. The Lions came away with one point, and this technically takes them out of the tournament even if the powerhouse teams of Germany and Chile meet without scoring a single goal. Interestingly, the mostly Russian crowd at the massive stadium in Saint Petersburg wildly cheered on the African team and booed the Australians.
There is still a match left for the Lions, and it will be against the World Cup Champion Germany. Even though Cameroon is technically out, the team will have a chance to show the world that African football can hold its own against the greatest national teams. In the end, both teams pushed for victory, but had to settle for a draw. The Lions are very young and it shows; internal federation scuffles back in Cameroon resulted in some key veterans sitting out the Confederations Cup, but this young team is the one vying to play here in Russia next year for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and thus the experience was clearly needed.