Five things learned as Canada beat Cameroon 1-0 to end Women’s World Cup travel woes
Canada got their World Cup campaign off to a winning start, beating Cameroon 1-0 on Monday evening.
Kadeisha Buchanan scored the only goal of the game just before half-time, giving Canada an early advantage in Group E.
But what did we learn from the match?
1. Beckie can take Canada far
In the build-up to the 2019 Women’s World Cup, much of the focus surrounding the Canadian national team was based on Christine Sinclair and her ridiculous goalscoring record.
But as Canada got off to a winning start in France, Manchester City midfielder Janine Beckie reminded everyone that there is more to the side than Sinclair.
Playing on the left of midfield, Beckie was wonderful, causing Cameroon serious problems with her creativity. Pretty much every positive move Canada had come through the 24-year-old.
Beckie created five chances against Cameroon, three more than any other player and had 81 touches, the fourth-highest on the pitch.
And naturally, it was Beckie who set up the opening goal for Canada. Having tested herself with previous corners, Beckie got one spot on just before half-time, finding Buchanan’s run to the far post.
2. Sinclair may need something special to make history in France
Christine Sinclair is four goals away from becoming the highest ever goalscorer in international football, across both the men and the women’s game.
Sitting on 181 goals in 281 games going into the World Cup, some had expected the veteran to break Abby Wambach’s record of 184 before the tournament was up.
But Monday evening’s showing proves Sinclair may need a bit more than just determination and skill to score her way into the history books.
Sinclair started well, having an early header deflected wide after just three minutes and was also keen to create chances for her team-mates. But as the game went on, Sinclair’s influence dropped with Canada a bit too wasteful with their crosses.
The Portland Thorns striker did have more efforts in the second half; including another header which failed to trouble the goalkeeper, a poor free-kick which was nowhere near beating the wall, and a close-range stab goalwards that just wouldn’t go in.
Sinclair’s blank also saw her miss out on becoming the first player to score in five World Cups, an accomplishment Brazil’s Marta could steal before the Canadian next plays.
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3. Onguene provides positives for Cameroon
Despite the defeat, Cameroon can leave their first game against Canada with their heads held high. Aside from Buchanan’s goal, Alain Djeumfa’s side – who are taking part in only their second World Cup – defended well and kept Canada’s attackers frustrated.
The one negative from the performance which will need to be worked on ahead of their next game against Netherlands, is their lack of bite in attack. But in Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene, there is hope.
The 30-year-old was Cameroon’s stand-out star going forward and will be vital for them if they wish to reach the knockout stages.
Onguene was tireless down Cameroon’s left, giving Ashley Lawrence a busy evening in Montpelier. She completed two take-ons and was unfazed by the opponents, not being afraid to get stuck into tackles and challenge for every ball.
The only downside to Onguene’s performance was her set pieces, which generally failed to reach her team-mates.
4. Buchanan will be key for Canadian success
Although Beckie ran the show for Canada, her performance was arguably bettered by Kadeisha Buchanan.
The 23-year-old was an absolute rock at the back, keeping up with the dangerous Onguene, ensuring her opponent did not have too much luck.
And with Canada’s main goal-threat, Sinclair, having a quiet evening, it was Buchanan who scored the all-important goal just before half-time with a good downward header from a corner following a fantastic deep run.
5. Canada beat travel woes
Canada may be the fifth-best team in women’s football, according to the FIFA world rankings, but they have not exactly had the greatest record away from home at World Cups.
The 1-0 win over Cameroon in Montpelier was just Canada’s second victory at a World Cup not held in the continent of North America. Their only other success came in China in 2007, beating Ghana in the group stages.
Sweden 1995 and Germany 2011 came and went without victory, while Canada’s five other World Cup wins have come either in their own nation in 2015, or United States 2003.
And they will be hoping Cameroon will not be another one-off victory on the road, as they look to improve on their best-ever finish – fourth in 2003.