Soccer can be harsh sometimes, just ask Cameroon.
The Indomitable Lions became the first team to score against Brazil at Qatar 2022 on Friday, but its famous 1-0 win against the tournament favorite was still not enough to see it through to the knockout stages.
Vincent Aboubakar’s header in stoppage time may have given his nation a memorable victory, but Switzerland’s 3-2 win against Serbia in the other Group G game meant Cameroon could not progress.
The match at the Lusail Stadium had been largely uneventful for 90 minutes with both sides failing to find a breakthrough. Brazil had already booked its place in the next round and rested many of its key players.
Cameroon, meanwhile, knew it needed at least a win against the Brazilians to stand any chance of staying in the competition, but it failed to trouble its opponent until a frantic stoppage time period.
After nine minutes of added time was announced, Cameroon sensed an opportunity but, in truth, Aboubakar’s goal came completely against the run of play.
The striker’s fine header may not have helped its side into the round of 16, but it was historical nonetheless – and was celebrated by the entire Cameroon squad.
It was a goal that inflicted Brazil with its first World Cup group stage defeat since 1998.
However, soccer isn’t always kind, and Aboubakar was subsequently shown a second yellow card for taking his shirt off in celebration, meaning he was sent off the pitch before full-time.
Referee Ismail Elfath looked almost apologetic as he rained on Aboubakar’s parade, but the striker took it well, shaking the officials hand before walking down the tunnel smiling.
Despite the defeat, Brazil still progresses as the Group G winner and will face South Korea in the next round on Monday.
Neymar, who continues to nurse an ankle injury picked up in the opening match, watched on from the stands on Friday, and Brazil manager Tite will hope his captain can be fit in time for the next fixture.
Despite its dominance in possession against Cameroon, Brazil looked sloppy in front of goal and missed the bit of quality that Neymar so often produces.
“It’s a warning signal,” veteran Brazil defender Dani Alves told reporters after the match. “There is no weak rival. Here is the lesson, we need to stay switched on throughout the game. One detail and it’s over.
“We end today with the feeling that a beautiful day slipped through the hands of us players who weren’t playing much.”
Meanwhile, Switzerland finished runner-up in the group and will face Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal on Tuesday after a high-scoring game against Serbia.
Despite taking the lead, the Swiss found themselves 2-1 down before mounting a stunning comeback to take victory, and second place in the group.