Cameroon ended their disappointing run at the 2014 World Cup with a dour display against host nation Brazil, losing by a final score of 4-1 on Monday.
Cameroon spent the majority of their 270 minutes in Brazil trailing the other three teams in Group A. The Indomitable Lions' one shining moment against Brazil—and in the World Cup as a whole—turned out to be an early goal from defender Joel Matip, a most unlikely source of ephemeral inspiration.
Matip and the rest of the Cameroon back line did little on the defensive side to prove that they were going to end their tournament on a positive note. Neymar put up Brazil 1-0 very early on in the match; Cameroon looked lifeless once again.
Before Matip found the back of the net, he sent shockwaves through all of Brazil with a thumping header that rocked the woodwork. Goal.com's India Twitter account decided all-caps was the only way to describe Matip's effort:
The sound of Matip's near-goal must have woken up his teammates, as they enjoyed a brief spell holding the ball and dictating play.
Matip was spurred on by his earlier effort and put himself in perfect position to tap in Allan Nyom's lovely cross and tie the match at 1-1. Football Vines has the video of Matip's goal:
It all goes quiet in Brazil as Matip equalises. http://t.co/ovnVBgKGev— Football Vines (@Vine_Football) June 23, 2014
The Bundesliga's English-language Twitter account captured Matip's emotion after scoring Cameroon's first goal of the tournament:
Squawka Football and WhoScored.com noted the importance of the goal for Matip as an individual:
Joël Matip with his first ever goal for Cameroon. #CMR— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 23, 2014
Joel Matip: Has scored his first goal in 25 appearances for Cameroon #cmr— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) June 23, 2014
ESPN Stats & Info highlighted just how unlikely Matip's goal was, considering star striker Samuel Eto'o's absence from the match:
Matip's goal wasn't just significant from a personal and team standpoint, either. As ESPN's Paul Carr notes, his goal showed just how action-packed this World Cup has been compared to its predecessor:
Cameroon's Joël Matip scores the 101st goal of this WC, matching the total from the entire 2010 WC group stage.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) June 23, 2014
The Sun believed the goal meant the match was set to be a competitive one:
Matip levels with a tap in after he's left unmarked in the six-yard box. It looks like we might have a game on here!— The Sun - Football (@TheSunFootball) June 23, 2014
The glory would prove to be short lived, however, as Brazil dominated the rest of the match. In the 34th minute, Neymar followed up Matip's equalizer with his fourth goal of the tournament to restore Brazil's lead at 2-1, and second-half goals from Fred and Fernandinho cemented Brazil's victory and their place in the round of 16.
Cameroon were one of the first teams to crash out of the World Cup with their disappointing performances against Mexico and Croatia. The Indomitable Lions' futility is in stark contrast to the other African nations in this tournament. Ivory Coast, Ghana, Algeria and Nigeria are all still in the running to advance to the knockout stages.
Cameroon will have to shake things up in order to erase the memory of this World Cup debacle. Coach Volker Finke never seemed to have a firm grasp on his squad; his exit could be one of the first moves the Cameroonian football federation makes in order to restore their national team to glory and respectability.