WWC 2015: Best and worst of Match Day 10 – Group C

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Our daily guide to the best and the worst of today’s Group C action in the 2015 Women’s World Cup!

The best and worst of Group C

What Happened

The Japanese started the day as guaranteed qualifiers from Group C and took on the hopelessly out of depth Ecuador fully expecting a win. Whilst they dominated proceedings with almost three quarters of the possession and 20 shots to the South American’s three, they found themselves victorious with a rather meagre 1-0 score line courtesy of Yuki Ogimi’s 17th minute strike.

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Simultaneously Cameroon played Switzerland in a second place play-off and was able to overcome the European outfit with a stirring come-from-behind victory.

The Swiss took an early lead through Ana-Maria Crnogorčević’s goal in the opening quarter of the game but an inspired second-half performance from the Africans saw them overturn the deficit and guarantee progression into the knockout stage of the tournament.

Stand Out Performers

Despite conceding 17 goals for the tournament, one can’t go past Ecuadorian keeper Shirley Berruz’s performance against a much-favoured Japanese side in the final fixture for the group. With 20 shots peppered at her – nine of which were on target – the stopper was instrumental in ensuring the group’s languishers left Canada with their heads held high. One particularly spectacular save – pushing a shot from point-blank range into the crossbar – would have been the envy of a many a goalkeeper.

Meanwhile Gabrielle Onguene’s performance for Cameroon was the key to their impressive comeback victory as the forward hit the first goal with a well struck drive from the edge of the 18-yard box just after half time. Soon afterwards she’d assisted in giving her team the lead with an enterprising run and cross which was helped into the back of the net, and with it Cameroon were through to the next stage.

Talking Points

Japan’s sluggish performance against a much weaker opponent may be cause for some concern heading into the knockout stages but a 100% record is fairly clinical nonetheless. Ecuador are going home after experiencing a torrid tournament but after holding the reigning champions to just one goal can do so with heads held high.

What it Means

Japan was always continuing in the tournament regardless of today’s result and will take on one of the third placed teams in the round of sixteen.

Cameroon’s win has guaranteed them progression and they have a date with China in the first knockout fixture on Sunday morning. The Swiss are now waiting on other results to determine if their third is enough to see them through but given their inflated goal difference they should have another game in them.

Finally, Ecuador are going home winless and despite the thrashings from Cameroon and Switzerland will do so with heads held high having kept Japan almost completely at bay. 2015 was always going to be a learning experience for Ecuador and hopefully this World Cup gives the women’s game greater standing in the South American nation.

Needs Work

For Japan not a lot has gone wrong and although a bigger winning margin was expected in their final game, a three-zero win-loss record is hard to argue with. There’s little reason to doubt their performance will improve against a stronger opponent.

Cameroon will want to look at their sluggish starts and ensure they don’t become ingrained in the squad’s performance. They got out of gaol with an inspired second half against the Swiss but it won’t be that easy from now on.

What Next

Japan will take on a third place team which will be named once the final group games have all been completed, while Cameroon will open the Round of 16 with a date with China. Switzerland is waiting to see if it gets through to the knockout stages but unless something ridiculous happens they will, and Ecuador take the next plane home to work out how the lessons of Canada 2015 can be put to good use.

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Goal of the day

While the day didn’t have anything that dragged one off one’s sofa as the sun was rising, Madeleine Ngono Man’s diving header on goal from close range looked the part. More importantly it gave her side the lead which took them through to the next stage, something she will be immensely proud of.

Miss of the day

In what’s not necessarily a miss, but rather a cracking save, Ecuadorian stopper Shirley Berruz inspired her whole team with something straight off the highlights reel. With the bail floated into the box Japanese heads and legs went everywhere trying to connect.

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From six yards a shot was belted and despite being hopelessly out of position, Berruz dived low and managed to scoop the ball up with one hand which then cannoned into the cross bar and away to safety. It was a stunning effort from a keeper otherwise besieged during the tournament and one that will be no doubt recounted to her grandchildren several thousand times in years to come.

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