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Cameroon Outplays Saudi Arabia in World Cup Match - 2002-06-06

African and Olympic champion Cameroon has defeated Saudi Arabia, 1-0, in a first round World Cup football match in Saitama, Japan.

Before this match, some World Cup watchers thought "The Indomitable Lions" of Cameroon might be headed for an easy victory. They based their predictions on Saudi Arabia's last result a humiliating 8-0 loss to Germany, June 1 in Sapporo, Japan.

While Cameroon controlled play at Saitama Stadium, the victory was not easy. Cameroon had some good scoring chances in the first half. Just before the break, a header into the net by England-based midfielder Lauren was disallowed, with Cameroon ruled offside. The first half ended scoreless.

In the 65th minute, one of Cameroon's star strikers, Samuel Eto'o, a finalist for the 2001 African Player of the Year award, broke free after receiving a long pass. He knocked the ball past Saudi Arabia's captain, goalkeeper Mohammed Al Deayea, for the final margin. Eto'o, who was named the man of the match, celebrated his goal by tearing off his jersey and running to the sidelines to hug his head coach, Winfried Schaefer.

For his part, Coach Schaefer congratulated Saudi Arabia for fighting hard during the match. He will now prepare Cameroon for a showdown with Germany June 11 in Shizuoka, Japan.

Germany and Cameroon are leading their group with four-points from two matches. Ireland has two points from two games, while Saudi Arabia has no points. The Irish can advance to the second round with a victory over Saudi Arabia June 11 in Yokohama, Japan, and a loss by either Cameroon or Germany in their match.