Friday, October 2, 2009

Germany U-20 3-0 Cameroon U-20: Powerful Germans Exploit Defensive Lapses

A cagey start between both teams eager not to concede too much space early on knowing that a defeat could adversely affect their long term chances at the tournament was initially alleviated by only one early effort. Olivier Boumale curled a free-kick towards goal for Cameroon, which was clawed away by German goalkeeper Sebastian Mielitz for an early strong touch on the ball, after being drafted into the starting line-up in favour of Ron-Robert Zieler.

One feature of the tournament during the group stage is the willingness of many countries to use the long throw as a method to open up the opposition defence. That was well illustrated by Germany on the quarter of an hour mark when they thought they had taken the lead. A long throw by Bjorn Koepplin was flicked on by the head of a Cameroonian defender and fell to Lewis Holtby. The German with English roots slammed the ball into the back of the net, but the goal was chalked off after the referee correctly spotted the use of a hand by the Schalke midfielder.

The African side had another close shave on 20 minutes, when Germany had the ball in the back of the net again. A through ball was fastened onto by Richard Sukuta-Pasu, the lightening fast forward. He confidently took the ball into his stride and finished with aplomb, but it was disallowed for offside. Replays proved that the Bayer Leverkusen forward was even a little bit too fast for his own good.

It took until the 38th minute for Cameroon to create anything significant from open play, such was the relatively disjointed nature of the performance from both sides. Ghislain Mvom, one of the youngest players at the tournament aged only 16, managed to escape through the inside left channel sending a shot flying towards the German goal, which was well claimed by Mielitz.

Cameroon were left to rue the profligacy of Mvom when moments later Germany finally managed a legitimate goal at the third time of asking with five minutes to go until the break to make it 1-0. A free-kick was delivered from the right side of the pitch into the Cameroon penalty area, where three German players were left free at the far post. Richard Sukuta-Pasu needed no second invitation to nod the ball in from close range, profiting from some shocking marking.

Manuel Schaeffler should have extended Germany’s advantage barely 60 seconds later. A long ball through the middle was flicked on by Sukuta-Pasu for the 1860 Munich-based forward. Despite being under pressure from goalkeeper Francois Beyokol, Schaeffler should have got his looping header on target instead of sending it agonisingly wide.

The task Cameroon were facing was made even more difficult when Patrick Ekeng-Ekeng was sent off for a second yellow card. The Le-Mans forward was already on a booking having been cautioned for the use of an elbow, and was shown a second just before the break for a daft lunge on the halfway line in a misguided attempt to recover possession for his team.

The second half started in similar vein to the first with a promising free-kick from Cameroon. Boumale sent a dipping long-range effort, but with a similar outcome to his early effort in the first half. This time the strike flew over the bar.

On 53 minutes Cameroon goalie Beyokol kept his side in the contest with three quick-fire saves confirming his reputation as a shot stopper par-excellence. Holtby made ground down the German right, cutting into the penalty area and letting fly with a powerful shot that was tipped away. The rebound fell to Sukuta-Pasu, who was denied by the agile keeper on the follow-up, but again the ball dropped to the German striker. For a third time Beyokol was equal to the German shot this time managing to get the ball behind for a corner, earning himself some respite from the onslaught.

Francois Beyokol’s heroics were all in vain when four minutes later the Germans finally doubled their lead. A ball delivered from the left flank by Bjorn Koepplin was nodded down by the first goal scorer Manuel Schaeffler in the penalty area back to Semih Aydilek. The Kayserispor forward made no mistake slotting the ball in to make it 2-0.

Cameroon pressing forward recklessly in search of a goal were again cut open ruthlessly on 70 minutes. As the defence attempted to push up, Germany broke forward with three men beating the offside trap. Sukuta-Pasu’s mis-controlled ball landed at the feet of Holtby, who placed a low diagonal shot across Beyokol for 3-0.

Numbers on the field were evened up when Semih Aydilek was dismissed, also for two bookable offences. The sending off seemed to pep up Cameroon, with Andre Akono Effa fizzing a free-kick in, which was narrowly deflected behind for a corner with ten minutes remaining.
On 85 minutes German keeper Sebastian Mielitz was finally called into real action, when he was forced to tip over a shot from Germain Tiko. The Mallorca-based striker, following in the footsteps of striking legend Samuel Eto’o, was desperately unlucky to see a terrific effort just tipped over the bar, as Mielitz used the pace on the shot to divert it over the top.

With moments left in the game Cameroon should have at least got themselves a consolation goal when the German defence switched off. A free-kick was nodded on to the vacant Enow Tabot at the far side of the six-yard box. After taking a calm first touch, Tabot was unlucky to see his diagonal effort go wide of the opposite post.

Germany are through as group-winners, but Cameroon on three points have not done enough to go through even as one of the best third-placed teams, missing out on that spot to the US by just one goal.

Walter Townsend,

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