Opening match defeats made for an almost do or die clash between Australia and Cameroon in a mostly empty Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg. Ange Postecoglou opted to make two changes after Australia’s 3-2 defeat to Germany with Alex Gersbach and Robbie Kruse coming in for Aziz Behich and Massimo Luongo. Cameroon coach Hugo Broos kept with the same starting eleven which went down 2-0 to Chile.
In the opening twenty minutes of the half Australia controlled the tempo of the match. Tom Rogic was able to find plenty of space in between Cameroon’s midfield and defence, however, Australia was unable to fashion any clear-cut chances. The African Champions began to come into the game once they had isolated Rogic and their counter attacks were causing some concern for the Australian defence.
The first half looked set to finish scoreless but seconds before the interval Cameroon pulled ahead. Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui lofted the ball forward from the halfway line with André-Frank Zambo Anguissa able to get goal side of Milos Degenek before managing to flick over a tentatively advancing Mat Ryan with the ball dribbling into the back of the net. A real sucker punch from the Cameroonians with Australia momentarily switching off.
Australia had the first chance of the second half two minutes in when Mathew Leckie cut back for Tomi Juric who was able to control the ball before blazing his shot over the bar. A similar chance fell for Cameroon nine minutes later with Christian Bassogog getting behind Alex Gersbach before picking out Vincent Aboubakar who raked his shot to the left.
In the 59th minute Australia were awarded a lifeline when Ernest Mabouka fouled Gersbach in the area – the decision going to the VAR before finally being awarded. Australian skipper, Mark Milligan stepped up to the mark before dispatching his shot into the bottom left corner. The goal levelling the scores and setting up a tense final half hour.
Postecoglou brought James Troisi and Tim Cahill into the match in search of a winner, however, in the twenty minutes the later was on there was only one aerial cross into the Cameroon box – an odd usage of Australia’s best ever headerer. It was Cameroonians who looked the most likely to grab a winner with the imposing Aboubakar missing another two glaring opportunities in the final quarter of an hour which meant the match would finish 1-1.
The result leaves the two sides as they were in third and fourth in Group B. Australia now require a huge upset victory against Copa America Champions Chile if they are to have any chance of progressing to the semi-final. It is a similar scenario for Cameroon who will face Germany.
Australia – 1 (Milligan pen 59’)
Cameroon – 1 (Anguissa 45’+1)
— SBS – The World Game (@TheWorldGame) June 22, 2017