WWC 2015: Best and Worst of Match Day 3 – 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 reigning champions Japan got their campaign off to the best possible start, outlasting Switzerland 1-0. Norio Sasaki’s team were made to work hard for the points however with the plucky debutants nearly grabbing a point at the death.

Meanwhile, Gaelle Enganamouit scored a hat-trick as Cameroon beat Ecuador 6-0 to grab top spot in Group C at the conclusion of an exciting Match Day 3.

Japan entered their opening encounter with Switzerland as overwhelming favourites and in the end their pedigree against the tournament newcomers told.

After an early aerial barrage from the Japanese, the Swiss defence eventually cracked when Shinobu Ohno’s lofted pass found Ando, who was taken out by Thalmann. Aya Miyama confidently dispatched the resulting penalty to give the champions the lead.

Switzerland struggled for genuine opportunities throughout and were unable to find the final ball to unlock the superb Japanese back four, led by Saki Kumagai. Although the impressive duo of Dickenmann and Bachmann were able to orchestrate some of the game’s best moves, too often the Swiss attack would momentarily drop in intensity and peter out in the final third.

Perhaps a lack of big game tournament experience proved costly for the Swiss. Conversely, the Japanese defended like seasoned veterans. They dropped two defensive midfielders back to shield the box and compressed the centre with great success. It meant that what opportunities the Swiss did have to get in behind, they were marshalled expertly and forced to go out wide where the deliveries of fullbacks Rinast and Maritz lacked the quality to concern the Japanese defence.

It was a master class in defensive discipline and organisation.

The opening Group C match between Cameroon and Ecuador contained the polar opposite with the Ecuadorians guilty of conceding three penalties and a red card.

Like Switzerland, both sides were making their World Cup debut but after a completely dominant 90 minutes from the west Africans it was clear which team had acclimatized better.

Led by the hugely impressive Gaelle Enganamouit, Cameroon began their rout just past the half hour mark through Madeline Ngono Mani.

It was Enganamouit who had stung the palms of goalkeeper Beruz, who found her shot too hot to handle: Mani blasting in the rebound. Enganamouit added a second on the cusp of half-time, beating the Ecuadorian defence to a long ball over the top and slotting the ball past the keeper.

The Cameroonians continued the onslaught after half-time where the gap in quality between the two sides, especially on the fitness and organisation front, began to widen drastically. They were simply quicker, stronger and more disciplined than their Ecuadorian counterparts.

Although outclassed by the superior side, the Ecuadorians didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory – the concession of three penalties and a red card will be a major cause for concern for Vanessa Arauz.

Stand Out Performances

She may have been on the losing side but not even the staunchest Japanese supporter would deny that Switzerland’s Ramona Bachmann was the best on ground.

The influential number 10 was everywhere for the Swiss – taking the game by the scruff of the neck on several occasions. She almost scored what would surely have been goal of the tournament – a mazy dribble beginning from near halfway and ending after rounding the keeper. Unfortunately for her and the Swiss, she lost her footing at the vital moment.

It was a debut the Swiss can be proud of and they may have unearthed one of the tournaments potential stars in Bachmann – which, like the Swiss national flag, is a big plus.

Cameroon have been waiting a long timefor the chance to shine on the World Cup stage but Gaelle Enganamouit ensured it would be a day to remember for the debutants. The 23-year-old’s virtuoso display capped a superb all round performance from Cameroon who have given themselves a good chance at qualifying for the knockout stages at the first attempt.

Enganamouit had a role in all of her sides goals and the sending off of Ecuadorian captain Moreira. An eye-catching display was crowned by a stoppage time penalty which sealed her hat trick and added the sixth for Cameroon.

Talking Points

Gaelle Thalmann’s challenge on Kouze Ando is sure to reopen the time-honoured debate about collisions between goalkeeper and potential goal scorer. Whilst Thalmann managed to get a slight touch on the ball to divert it away from goal, she clattered into Ando – eventually forcing a substitution through injury.

Needs Work

Switzerland, despite going toe-to-toe with one of the world’s best sides, might feel aggrieved to not have escaped the game with a point. They certainly are intent on playing attractive football – playing the ball out from goal kicks, prioritising patient build-up play and getting the likes of Bachmann on the ball in tight areas to release the overlapping runs of the two fullbacks, Maritz and Rinast.

The Swiss had camped inside the Japanese half on several points throughout the game but facing two banks of four they lacked the incisiveness and killer instinct to create opportunities in and around the box. They will need to improve on this in order to escape the group.

Japan will admit their performance, whilst admirable in its defensive resolution, was under par by their lofty standards. They will need to lift their intensity, especially with the ball, in future matches or face the prospect of an early exit in the qualifying stages.

Ecuador meanwhile must go back to basics and pray that Vanessa Arauz can devise a strategy to contain the opposition in their remaining group fixtures. Otherwise, there could be more drubbings on the horizon.

What Next?

Switzerland play Ecuador on the 12th of June with the loser  potentially out of qualifying contention whilst Japan face Cameroon, also on the 12th of June, with the winner likely to seal qualification in first place.

Goal of the Day

Goals of top quality were absent from today’s Group C action but Enganamouit’s stoppage time penalty for Cameroon holds special significance for player, country and tournament.

Miss of the Day

Ironically, the miss of the day comes from the one of the Match Day’s most outstanding players. Ramona Bachmann had the chance to steal a point at the death for Switzerland when Japan failed to clear a long ball but she blasted it high over the bar.

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