By Beng Emmanuel
The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon returned to form with a much needed win over group D rivals Mozambique to give Ivory Coast a close chase.
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Karl Toko Ekambi returned to the score sheet for the first time since 2019 for Cameroon as the Indomitable Lions inflicted a 3-1 defeat to Mozambique on Friday on match day three of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
The impressive win-the first at the Japoma Stadium-that was celebrated by 10,000 fans helped the five times African champions return to winning ways after losing to Ivory Coast last month.
Choupo-Moting opened the scoring with a sublime header and doubled the advantage in the second half before Ekambi headed in from close range to make it 3-0. Mozambique managed to pull one back through Geny Catamo but succumbed to their second successive defeat.
Cameroon was the better team throughout the game. The host enjoyed the lion share of possession but were restricted to few chances in the early minutes.
Eric-Maxim Choupo Moting made the biggest statement of the first half but spurned an early chance after a defensive blunder. The attacker only needed a smart touch -which he did-but the ball rolled out off target.
The Bayern Munich forward later atoned to his huge miss when he headed home unmarked from a perfect right-foot cross from Martin Hongla and rooted the keeper to the spot.
They Indomitable Lions of Cameroon then gained momentum and gave trouble to their visitors. They created a handful of chances to add a second but could not hit the target.
Cameroon’s centre-back pairing Michael Ngadue and Harold Moukoudi came closest as their headers went slightly wide over the crossbar. Mozambique’s Dayo Antonio almost levelled scores before the break but his low drive from Geny Catamo’s through pass bounced out.
Mozambique improved and regained confidence in the second half. But the Mambas lacked the cutting edge to reverse the situation. Cameroon turned things around brutally, scoring twice within twelve minutes.
Choupo-Moting wrapped-up his impeccable display with a brace after Mozambique goalie Erman failed to keep out his header before Toko Ekambi rounded-off the scoring for the Indomitable Lions-with all goals from Nicoals Ngamaleu assists.
But they suddenly started to rest on their laurels which cost them to concede 10 minutes to stoppage time when Geny Catamo scored an exceptional goal.
Cameroon had numerous late chances to put the game to bed but second half substitutes Christian Bassogog, and Stephane Bahoken failed to convert from glaring opportunities. Mozambique ended the game with ten men after Danilo Muze was sent out.
Despite the win, the boys of Coach Antonio Conceicao continue to sit second of group D with six points. The victory also keeps them in the race for qualifiers as they hope to reach the final round of qualifiers.
They are only one away from leaders Ivory Coast who had earlier beaten Malawi 3-0.
Cameroon and Mozambique shall clash in the return leg on the 11thof October in Morocco.
Group D Standing
1. Ivory Coast-7pts
Cameroon 3-1 Mozambique
Choupo-Moting (28’ 51), Toko Ekambi 63’/ Geny Catamo 80’