· Ivory Coast and Cameroon continue their fierce battle for Group D supremacy as both sides picked up crucial wins to make it a two-horse race
By Beng Emmanuel
Cameroon defender Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui scored a second half winner as the Indomitable Lions narrowly edged Mozambique 1-0 on match day four of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers to keep up the pressure on group D leaders Ivory Coast.
The five-time African champions-who arrived at Tangier 12 hours to kick-off, after their flight was delayed from Douala-ran out of ideas and displayed a severe lack of creativity that created little for them throughout the first half.
Their best chance came from Captain Vincent Aboubakar. The 29-year-old AFCON winner came close to scoring his second goal of the World Cup qualifiers but his well curled shot from a tight angle was saved by Ernan.
But the Indomitable Lions backline was the busier of the two defences. Devis Epassy began to justify why he was selected as the first choice keeper. He was frequently forced to make decent saves as Cameroon’s awful defending persisted.
Mozambique was largely culpable of not scoring at least twice in the first half. They had a handful of chances to unlock the Cameroonian defence. There were many chances to win the game early for the host but they inexplicably missed all glorious chances.
Cameroon recovered from their slow start with Coach Antonio Conceicao making four substitutions before the hour mark. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Karl Toko Ekambi who both scored during their 3-1 first leg win in Douala were substituted by Yvan Neyou and Lea Siliki.
Despite enduring a flurry of threats from Mozambique, Cameroon held firm in defence and finally got their much laboured goal from Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui. The Gent centre-back headed home from Nicolas Ngamaleu’s corner kick after Ernan punched the ball to his path as he blissfully celebrated with his mates.
Mozambique did not throw the towel. They threatened to thwart Cameroon’s chances but looked more unlikely to score and succumbed to defeat.
With Mozambique losing to Cameroon and Malawi falling to Ivory Coast, it means neither the Mambas nor the Flames can qualify for next year’s World Cup finals in Qatar.
Ivory Coast beat Malawi 2-1 to regain control of the group. Cameroon continues to sit second with nine points, one point from the top. Both nations are now the only two sides from the group still in the race to determine the group winner.
Cameroon has two hectic upcoming fixtures. They face Malawi on the 11th of October before taking on Ivory Coast on the 14.
Ivory Coast and Cameroon are most likely to face each other on the final day of qualifiers in a winner-takes-all contest.
Either Ivory Coast or Cameroon will join the winners of the other groups to reach next March’s play-offs, where Africa’s five representatives for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will be known.
Mozambique 0-1 Cameroon
[Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui 68’]
Group D Standing
1. Ivory Coast-10pts