Four more teams had an opportunity to punch their tickets to the knockout stage of the expanded FIFA Women’s World Cup on Tuesday. With Group’s C and D in action there were a lot of intriguing storylines on the line.
Could an African nation make it to the knockout stages of a Women’s World Cup for just the second time ever? Would the United States top the Group of Death? What about two world powers in Australia and Sweden?
Plenty of action, plenty of surprises on Day 9 of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. So, let’s take a look at what happened and hopefully answer some of those questions for you.
1) Biggest Winner — Cameroon
Simply put, this group was going to supply a first-time participant in the round of 16 regardless of which side made it next to reigning champion Japan. The trio of Cameroon, Switzerland and Ecuador were all making their first Women’s World Cup.
The odds of Cameroon being one of the two automatic qualifiers for the round of 16 were pretty slim, with most experts, pundits and betting sites placing their faith in Switzerland being the second side through in this group.
Over the first 50 minutes of the final match, that faith looked like a good bet. Switzerland scored first on a Crnogorcevic goal in the 24th minute of the match, but the Cameroonian side didn’t give up. Instead, the Lionesses roared back to life and attacked with abandon really.
The all-out effort paid off in spades, as Cameroon tied up the contest in the 47th minute on a great cross and equally impressive effort by Aboudi Onguene to slot it in the side netting across the face of goal. Cameroon didn’t let up on the gas following the equalizer either, pouring on the attack even harder.
It all paid off in the 62nd minute as 31-year-old veteran Madeleine Ngono Mani headed home what would be the game winner. The goal was her first of the 2015 Women’s World Cup, but her 39th overall in 76 appearances.
Cameroon’s effort, pace and attitude made them deserving winners and surprising debutants advancing to the round of 16.
2) Biggest Loser — Sweden
Someone was going to be left on the outside looking in in the “Group of Death” at this Women’s World Cup, but few thought that it would be 5th ranked Sweden. However, it couldn’t muster up more than a goal against Australia and are now left to wait out the rest of the results from the final two groups in order to know it’s fate.
Sweden took a big swing and a miss in the group, tying all three of its matches and thusly having a dangerous zero goal differential.
On Tuesday night it couldn’t stop Australia from opening up the scoring early, with Lisa De Vanna scoring in the 5th minute. Sweden answered back in the 15ht minute but the final 75 minutes of the matchup produced absolutely nothing. Pia Sundhage’s squad really didn’t show much in the way of attack, and it hurt this team in a big way against the better squads in the tournament (let alone the group).
3) Standout Performer — Madeleine Ngono Mani, Cameroon
When you are advancing to your country’s first round of 16, there’s a lot to be put on the goal that got you there. When you are Ngono Mani and easily the most recognizable name on the roster, scoring the deciding goal to get you through works as well.
It just so happened that Ngono Mani’s goal was picture perfect and her play throughout the matchup with Switzerland was dangerous.
Combine that with a real lack of goals on the day as a whole, and Ngono Mani gets the nod. You have to see the entire match to understand just how critical she was to Cameroon’s improbable run to the round of 16, so we suggest finding a replay if possible. She was worth the price of admission on Tuesday afternoon.
4) Results of the Day —
Ecuador 0 Japan 1 (Ogimi 5′)
Switzerland 1 (Crnogorcevic 24′) Cameroon 2 (Onguene 47′; Ngono Mani 62′)
Australia 1 (De Vanna 5′) Sweden 1 (Jakobsson 15′)
Nigeria 0 United States 1 (Wambach 45′)
5) Tweet/Social Media of the Day —
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) June 16, 2015
Let’s just say there hasn’t been a team more well supported in the Women’s World Cup than the United States. Even the Canadian hosts aren’t close to what the American Outlaws and countless other fans have brought to the table for the USWNT.
6) Goal of the Day — Abby Wambach, United States
This was all redemption for the most outspoken player in the 2015 Women’s World Cup. As a former World Player of the Year, what Wambach says carries big weight. Her talk on the field didn’t match production, and after being left off the starters list in the last match, this goal was an emphatic statement she still has it.
Here is another good look at what happened:
7) Best Moment of the Day — Cameroon’s Celebratory Nature
Cameroon came in to their winner-take-all match with Switzerland in a dancing mood. Literally, the Lionesses danced their way in to their dressing room and ended the match by dancing their way in to the round of 16 as perhaps the biggest surprise side so far in the tournament.
The celebratory nature of this side has been fun to watch all tournament long and the joy following Ngono Mani’s 62nd minute goal is one of the indelible images of this Women’s World Cup. It wasn’t just today either, as the Cameroonian’s have celebrated in fine fashion all World Cup long.