Cameroon will meet France in the Final of the FIFA Confederations Cup after edging out Colombia on 26 June 2003 in Lyon. The winning goal came early on, as Pius Ndiefi volleyed home to round off a stunning team move. However the game was overshadowed by the death of Cameroon midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe.
As ever, the opening exchanges saw both sides jockey for possession in the middle of the park, and it immediately became clear that there was only one winner at that game. The Cameroon midfield quickly got into their stride and scored with virtually their first attack. Geremi picked up a poor clearance on the left side of the Colombian defence before rolling the ball back to Djemba. The Nantes man let the ball run onto his left side and swung in a vicious cross to the back post where Mohamadou Idrissou had peeled away from his marker. The lanky Hanover 96 striker intelligently nodded the ball back across goal where Pius Ndiefi was waiting to volley into the empty net (9').
A goal to the good, the Cameroon side were content to concede possession to their opponents and let them play in front of their defence. Those well-laid plans nearly came undone when Jairo Patiño unleashed a belter from outside the box that Idris Kameni parried just round the post (17'). His Colombian counterpart was next to be called into action, stretching athletically to deny Geremi just as the Middlesbrough man seemed to have dribbled around him (30').
Tricky winger Elson Becerra came on at half-time for Francisco Maturana’s men, and not for the first time, his appearance had a positive impact on his team-mates. Suddenly the South Americans were looking to get the ball forward at every opportunity and get behind the robust Cameroon back line. They nearly paid for a lack of concentration at the back on 53 minutes however. Idrissou sneaked onto a clever Ndiefi ball for a one-on-one with Córdoba, but the Besiktas man had the last word, getting down to push the ball for a corner (53').
Then Becerra was away, taking on and beating Bill Tchato all ends up. The Cameroonian hauled the new boy down and was off for his second bookable offence (67'). A man up, Colombia were in with a real chance now, but just as they began imposing their “toque” rhythm on the game, the match was held up as Foé was treated.
The Africans nearly doubled their lead when Mézague tried an audacious lob from 40 yards out, only to screw it wide (87'). Finally, on 89 minutes, Colombia had a gilt-edged double chance - and are probably still wondering how on earth the ball stayed out. From a beautifully executed Giovanni Hernandez free-kick, first Mario Yepes and then Aristizábal, following in, headed onto the same upright. That proved to be the last incident of the match, and the Indomitable Lions had earned their place in the Final at the Stade de France. Francisco Maturana’s Colombia are out, but they have given a good account of themselves overall and can look forward to their third-place play-off – and beyond – with some optimism.