The World Cup is cruel. Cameroon has been eliminated after playing the most wide open and entertaining match of the tournament. But their failure to finish from corners and crosses and cutbacks and fast breaks and rebounds and headers doomed them to the dust bin.
This was not what we assumed would happen after Eto’o opened the scoring. Danish defender Simon Kjaer was pick-pocketed to the left of the box, the ball was centered to Eto’o, and he could’ve texted his intentions to the keeper with all the time he had to finish. His emotional, howling celebration was inspiring; the hope of a nation is a tough burden to bear.
20 minutes later, Denmark was level after a gorgeous upfield bomb from Kjaer set Rommedahl loose. He bested Assou-Ekotto and sent a low ball across goal that Bendtner slid into for a harder-than-it-looked finish.
We couldn’t have gone more than 3 minutes without a chance coming for one side or the other after that. Geremi for Cameroon and the afore-mentioned Rommedahl for Denmark embarrassed defenders and created chances for their forwards. None could capitalize, so at about the 60 minute mark, Rommedahl took matters into his own hands. Video-game style, he took the ball on the wing, cut into the middle, and curled a ball around keeper Souleymanou Hamidou. 2-1 Denmark, and while that’s how it finished, the scoreline does no justice to the sheer number of chances in this game. 23 shots for Cameroon, 13 for Denmark, and both teams easily could have put 4 or 5 of those in the net.
Cameroon’s biggest goats were probably Webo and Idrissou. The latter missed multiple headers, including one unmarked off a corner that felt like a sure thing as the ball came down and he went up. The former shot the ball everywhere but into the goal. Cameroon missed every way you could, and I’m a believer that the pressure had more to do with it than the ball.
Cameroon wasn’t alone, though; the Danes squandered a few jaw-dropping chances, too. At one point, Denmark has both Tomasson and Rommedahl loose with only the goalie in front of them, but Tomasson could only find the keeper. Speaking of, for a game with so many exciting moments, we ought to doff our caps to the goalies on both ends. In particular, I felt Sorensen showed he belongs at a more elite club than Stoke City; perhaps Arsenal will take heed. He showed excellent instincts on dives and collecting balls from the air, and his porous back line probably owes him a six-pack for saving their asses time and again.
All of this means the Netherlands has won the group and can rest their first team in the final match. Should be a nice advantage heading into final 16. Cameroon is out, and the Danes must beat Japan to advance. Because Japan only lost to the Dutch by 1 while Denmark lost be 2, a tie will send Japan to the next round.
Cameroon played highly entertaining football, and folks here know I’m a fan of Samuel Eto’o. It’s sad to see them out of the World Cup.