Surprise newcomers Cameroon kept African hopes alive at the Women’s World Cup as continental champions Nigeria followed Ivory Coast by exiting the tournament after the group stage.
Cameroon, the tournament’s second-lowest ranked side, came from behind to beat Switzerland 2-1 and book a last-16 meeting with China. Switzerland must wait to find out if they qualify for the knockout stages as one of the four best third-placed teams.
This has been a first World Cup appearance for Cameroon and Ecuador and, while Ecuador have lost all three games, Cameroon have impressed. They fell behind against Switzerland to Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic’s low strike, but rallied in fine style after the break. The African side equalised through Gabrielle Onguene’s drilled effort from just inside the penalty area, and Madeleine Ngono Mani’s diving header sealed second place in the group.
“We are excited to qualify for the second round. Just the fact we are here will have a positive impact on Cameroon,” said coach Enow Ngachu.
“We’ve received many messages on social media. Some teams have started to be created in Cameroon and we hope that many more will be created.
“Compared to Nigeria, Cameroon is a small team. We’re not just representing Cameroon but carrying the colors of Africa.”
But Nigeria lost 1-0 to the United States and leave after the group phase for the sixth time in seven editions of the tournament, along with debutants Ivory Coast, at 67 the lowest ranked team in Canada. Ivory Coast lost 3-1 to Norway to finish without a point and at the bottom of Group B.