FIFA Women’s World Cup: Ecuador valiant against Japan, Cameroon look dangerous


Group C action comes to an end, Joe Soriano reviews all the action from Ecuador’s clash with Japan, and Cameroom’s win over Switzerland…

Japan 1-0 Ecuador

We knew there was no way for Ecuador to make it into the next round after losing 6-0 to Cameroon and then 10-1 to Switzerland, so all we could hope for was a competitive game between the first-time World Cup squad and Japan. The defending champions secured their ninth point, but Ecuador only surrendered one goal in a 1-0 loss that proved that they did indeed deserve to play on the premier stage of women’s soccer.

However, Japan expectedly dominated the stat sheet, hoarding two-thirds of the possession with a 9-0 advantage in corners, a 20-3 gap in shots taken, and an 8-2 lead in shots on target. That said, their only goal came on a big mix-up at the back between goalkeeper Shirley Berruz and Angie Ponce, who nearly had her third own goal of the tournament.

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Despite that unfortunate mishap on Ecuador’s part, the fact that they only lost to one of the best teams in the world by one goal can be seen as a huge moral victory in a tournament that was short on such consolation prizes for Vanessa Arauz’s squad.

Speaking of Arauz, her leadership and tactical knowledge weren’t able to shine through in Ecuador’s zero-point performance in their first ever World Cup, but she is one of the best young managers around and can take Ecuador to the next level in women’s soccer if more players are able to develop.

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At the end of the day, Ecuador, save for the error that led to Japan’s lone goal, played at a high level defensively for the first time in the tournament, but they’ll need to improve significantly in the future on offense if they want to be seen as a real threat. Aside from Ponce’s penalty goal against Switzerland, Ecuador never scored in this tournament.

Japan are now through into the knockout stages after making it through a tough group, because while Ecuador posed them no threat, both Cameroon and Switzerland were tough tests for one of the tournament’s most gifted and experienced squads.

Cameroon 2-1 Switzerland

Although Switzerland struck first in the 24th minute via a goal from Ana Maria Crnogorcevic that was set up well by Ramona Bachmann, Cameroon were able to convert their chances in the second half to win 2-1 with rising star Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene’s 47th-minute equalizer being the pick of the litter. Madeleine Ngono Mani’s header in the 62nd gave Cameroon the lead, and questionable time-wasting tactics and brave defending sealed it.

As a whole, Switzerland played well this tournament and were one of the most exciting and skilled teams (as expected), but the problem is that they were entirely wasteful on the attacking end. Although they played better than their three points indicate, they should feel disappointed by their play in the group stages.

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However, despite coming away with just one win and three points in the first round of the tournament, Switzerland should still be able to rectify their wrongs in the knockout stages, as only surprising circumstances will prevent a team with a +8 goal differential from advancing into the next round. Swiss fans will be anxiously watching the Group E and F results, because only Japan and Cameroon are guaranteed spots in the next round right now after accruing nine and six points, respectively.

Group C was one of the most interesting groups of the tournament, and the group’s big game between Cameroon and Switzerland showed it. This is the type of entertaining football we expected to see, and both teams showed off their pace, physicality, and class on the ball in an evenly-matched game that could have went either way.

Cameroon will be a huge team to watch in the next round, and they certainly have attackers who can finish with relative ease. Meanwhile, Switzerland are also a team to watch if they make it into the knockout stages, because they have shown that they are as dangerous as anyone despite their inconsistencies.