By Beng Emmanuel
Cameroon defeated Malawi 2-0 to go top of group D of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in their first international game at the 60.000 sitter Olembe Sport Complex on Friday.
Two first half goals from captain Vincent Aboubakar and Michael Ngadeu helped the five time African champions begin the qualifiers for next year’s World Cup finals in Qatar with style claiming their first three points.
The host dominated the game in the first half and created the first opening of the clash. They almost got an early lead but goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe made a smart save to deny Eric Maxime Choupo-Moting his chance after a lovely play in the build-up from Olivier Mbaizo and Nicolas Ngamaleu from the right flank.
But the Lions did not drop their intensity. Few minutes later, Vincent Aboubakar opened the scoring at the 9th minute, becoming the first player to score at the Olembe Sport Complex. The Al Nassr frontman scored a stunner from Pierre Kunde Malong’s inch perfect pass as Cameroon deservedly took the lead.
The boys of Coach Antonio Conceicao continued to pour forward at every opportunity and struggled to carve out clear-cut chances to take the game out of reach.
Toko Ekambi failed to strike an inviting pass from Choupo-moting with the Olympic of Lyon striker denied by a last dirge tackle. His second attempt was deflected over the cross bar but Micheal Ngadeu headed home from the resulting corner kick to make it 2-0.
Cameroon gave no breathing space to Malawi who more often could barely get out of their own half. Despite being snuffed out of supply, they managed to muster some attacking moments of their own but could not beat Epassy Devis from long range strikes.
The Indomitable Lions took things easier in the second half but never seemed outplayed at any stage by the Flames. They had a handful of chances but inexplicably missed them.
Even the entry of Ignatius Ganago, Yvan Neyou, Stephane Bahoken, Christian Bassogog and Napoli’s new recruit Andre Franck Zambo Anguissa in the second half of the game could not break Malawi’s defense for a third goal, although they eventually won the game played without fans.
It is the fourth victory for the Indomitable Lions against Malawi. The win is also their sixth under Antonio Conceicao who recently extended his contract at the helm of the men’s national team for another two years in August.
Having missed out from the 2018 edition, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon are determined to feature at next year’s World Cup finals in Qatar. They have featured at the pinnacle football tournament a record seven times- most of any other African nation.
Earlier on in the group, Mozambique and Ivory Coast separated on a goalless stalemate.
Match day two in group D will be played next Monday September 6th.
Cameroon travels over to face familiar foes Ivory Coast in Abidjan.
And Malawi welcomes Mozambique in the other game.
The winner of the group will advance to the next round of qualifiers where Africa’s five representatives at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will be known.
Cameroon 2-0 Malawi
· Vincent Aboubakar 9’(Kunde Malong)
· Ngadue Ngadjui M 23’(Nicolas Ngamleu)
Group D Standings
1. Cameroon 3pts
2. Ivory Coast 1pts
3. Mozambique 1pts
4. Malawi 0pts