World Cup football got off to an exciting start in Japan Saturday, as Group E's Cameroon played the Republic of Ireland to a 1-1 draw in the opening match in Niigata, while Germany crushed Saudi Arabia 8-0 in Sapporo.
Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o engineered the first goal of the opening match, dribbling through Ireland's defense to set up a wide-open Patrick Mboma. The 39th minute goal gave Cameroon the 1-0 lead.
Ireland pressured for the equalizer to start the second half, and it paid off in the 50th minute, as Matt Holland drove an 18-meter rocket into the net to tie the game. Neither team took advantage of later scoring chances, and the match ended in a 1-1 draw. Cameroon coach Winnie Schaefer says he expected his team to play well.
"A surprise, who knows, but at least not to underestimate the African teams, who represent Africa with dignity and verve," he said.
In the late match in Sapporo, Miroslav Klose led Germany's attack with three goals, as the Europeans blasted Saudi Arabia 8-0. The Germans controlled the match from the opening kick-off scoring four goals in the first half, and four more in the second as they cruised to the easy victory. Germany moves to the top of Group-E's standings with three points, while Ireland and Cameroon each have one.
Two World Cup football matches are set to be played in Japan Sunday in Group F, the so-called "Group of Death." Two-time champion Argentina plays Nigeria in Ibaraki while Sweden goes up against England in Saitama.