Samuel Eto'o has led Cameroon to a 1-0 victory over Saudi Arabia in Saitama. The win gives Cameroon and Germany four points each at the top of the Group E standings though Germany leads on goal difference, and the Saudis were the first team to be eliminated from the 2002 World Cup.
Cameroon outplayed Saudi Arabia for most of the first half but could not turn its advantage into a goal. Though the Africans put two balls into the net, both were disallowed on close, but correctly called off-sides.
After giving up eight goals in their opening match against Germany, the Saudis had to be pleased to escape the first 45-minutes without giving up a goal. Their good fortune continued in the second half as Cameroon continued to dominate but remained unable to dent the net.
That lasted until the 65th minute, when Samuel Eto'o broke though the Saudi defense and put the ball past keeper Mohammed Al Deayea. The Saudis pressed for the equalizer and had several opportunities, but Cameroon keeper Boukar Alioum was up to the challenge and held on for the shut out.
The loss means the Saudis cannot advance, but coach Nasser Al Johar says his team will still play hard against Ireland.
"We promise we will do our best in our final match in order to get the real picture of Saudi Arabia for the world," he said.
Cameroon is now tied with Germany for the Group E lead with four points. Coach Winnie Schaefer says his team did not get frustrated by its inability to score early.
"The important thing for me was to see that my team was really working every minute through the match and always thought the goal would come," he said.
In South Korea Thursday, Senegal and Denmark battled to a 1-1 tie while France and Uruguay played the tournament's first scoreless draw.
On Friday in Japan, Sweden plays Nigeria in Kobe while Argentina challenges England in Sapporo.