LUSAIL, Qatar — (AP) — Vincent Aboubakar’s powerful header was historic for Cameroon and Africa at the World Cup.
The stoppage-time goal did not help Cameroon reach the knockout stages despite the team’s 1-0 win over Brazil reserves on Friday. But it handed the five-time champions their first group stage defeat in 24 years and handed Africa their first victory against Seleçao at the tournament.
Aboubakar was sent off after a second caution for taking off his shirt during his celebration, which caused him to miss the final minutes of his side’s big win.
“I didn’t even realize it was such a historic win,” said Cameroon coach Rigobert Song. “We are one of the African countries that have played the most World Cups, and now we have beaten Brazil.”
Brazil had won their previous seven matches against African opponents at the World Cup.
“We can be proud of what we did tonight,” said Cameroon goalkeeper Devis Epassi. “We have worked very hard. Unfortunately, we didn’t qualify, and that’s why we’re not very happy.
Brazil, who had already reached the round of 16 after wins over Serbia and Switzerland, still finished first in Group H. They finished with six points, like Switzerland, but the South Americans had a better goal difference. Cameroon finished with four points and Serbia with one.
“The defeat doesn’t eliminate us, but we have to learn from it,” said midfielder Fabinho. “The objective was to finish first in the group and we did that.”
Brazil will face South Korea in the round of 16, while the Swiss will play Portugal.
It was the 11th time in a row that Brazil had won their World Cup group. They had won 17 consecutive group games since a 2-1 loss to Norway in 1998 in France. They had lost just one of their last 29 group matches at the tournament.
Cameroon had won none of their last nine World Cup matches, losing eight and drawing one – against Ireland in their 2002 tournament opener.
Coach Tite has rested nearly all of his regular starters and made 10 changes since the win over Switzerland on Monday.
Brazil were still without the injured Neymar, but the star striker was at the Lusail stadium to watch the game with his teammates.
Both teams created good scoring chances, but were unable to capitalize on them until Aboubakar’s winner from a cross from the right flank by Jérôme Ngom Mbekeli, who entered the game in the 86th minute.
The Cameroonian captain threw his jersey on the ground near the corner flag and waited for his teammates as they rushed towards him. He then left the pitch after the referee showed him the red card.
Brazil finally conceded a shot on target after failing to do so in the first two matches.
Cameroon, which started with a 1-0 loss to Switzerland, went through a bit of a slump after their 3-3 draw with Serbia, with goalkeeper Andre Onana sent home on disciplinary grounds after a row with the club. Coach Song.
With his debut on Friday, 39-year-old Dani Alves became the oldest Brazilian to play in a World Cup, ahead of 38-year-old centre-back Thiago Silva, Brazil’s captain in Qatar. Alves’ last game at a World Cup was in the Round of 16 of the 2014 tournament in Brazil.
NEYMAR THE STAR
Neymar has joined his teammates at the stadium for the first time since sustaining a right ankle injury in Brazil’s opener against Switzerland.
He wasn’t limping when he got off the team bus and even played with the ball while his teammates warmed up. The crowd cheered loudly as the stadium’s big screen showed him singing the national anthem before the game. Later, he sat in the stands behind the bench, with fans trying to get close and take pictures of him.
Brazilian fans have shown their support for football great Pelé, hospitalized in Sao Paulo with a respiratory infection.
They unfurled a banner with the image of Pelé holding a soccer ball behind one of the goals, and opened a large flag with an image of the great Brazilian and the words: “Pelé. Get well soon.” A fan in the stands held up a shirt with a picture of Pele on it.
INJURIES IN BRAZIL
Brazilian left-back Alex Telles, who replaced injured regular starter Alex Sandro, had to be substituted with a right knee injury, as did Gabriel Jesus. Both will undergo testing on Saturday.
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