Cameroon, the most decorated African team competing in the 19th FIFA World Cup, was unable to earn a win in its first match against Japan June 14 in South Africa.
Both teams played sloppy early in the game, but Japan eventually warmed up and proved to be the better team with a 1-0 victory to take lead of all teams in Group E (Netherlands, Denmark, Cameroon).
Japan recorded the lone score of the match when Keisuke Honda struck a goal in the back post during the 39th minute of play. Honda’s score was assisted with by teammate Daisuke Matsui, who found Honda with a curling cross kick across the field.
“I found a good position and the ball was very good,” Honda told reporters of the cross from Matsui. “I just told myself to be calm to make it because recently we have missed good chances, so I wanted to make it absolute today. Our strength is in our collective effort. To the very end we believed in our strength and we defended our goal.”
Despite the one score given up, Cameroon defended its goal pretty well, too. It was their offensive attack that struggled to gain any consistent rhythm. Cameroon made an array of attacks late in the game, but by that time, it was too late.
“We were too nervous in the first half. We lost many, many balls because we were nervous and that is why I am disappointed tonight,” Cameroon coach Paul Le Guen told the media. “They were not playing to their best of their ability and we were not able to release our potential this evening and that is really disappointing.”
Cameroon will look to bounce back when they face Denmark on June 19, while Japan will attempt to earn its second victory against the Netherlands.