Cameroon find consolation
Coming into their final Group C game at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup stadium, Uruguay were probably not expecting too much trouble from a pack of Indomitable Lions that had looked far from indomitable thus far. But sport is all about surprises and, as this defeat does not see them eliminated, Celeste coach Venancio Ramos was not too disconsolate after the match.
''At no time did we manage to take control of the game. Against a side that only recently discovered beach soccer, we should have been able to make our experience count. Now, I hope that things will go to form between Portugal and the Solomon Islands. Our aim was to reach the quarter-finals, so I've got my fingers crossed.''
In the oppressive heat of this Brazilian morning, the freshly watered sand at the Cocacabana stadium favoured the African champions from the start. Used to playing more on the ground than in the air, Joseph-Antoine Bell's charges were able to easily put their passing game together and repel the assaults of the Uruguayans.
To general surprise, the Indomitable Lions finished the first third in the lead courtesy of a beautiful strike by their captain Etienne Ngiladjoe that left Diego rooted to the spot.
And the Africans had more surprises in their locker. Getting repeatedly bogged down amidst a very solid Cameroonian defence, the Celeste were unable to find the path to goal. Inspired by a Pascal Mbeyo in exceptional form between the sticks, Cameroon managed to weather the storm and even restore their lead after the Uruguayans finally equalised. Just before the end of the second period, they even came within a hair's breadth of extending their lead still further.
But with less than three minutes remaining, Miguel sent one of his wonder strikes soaring into the roof of the Cameroonian net. The two sides were now on level pegging and we were about to be treated to a frenzied period of action during which each found the target once more. In the penalty shoot-out that followed, it was the African outfit who were destined to come out on top.
''We've only been playing beach soccer for two months and my hardest task has been to convince my players that they could actually win a match here in Rio," confided Joseph-Antoine Bell. "I'm very happy for them because by giving their all, they made things very difficult for an excellent Uruguayan side. We came here to learn and we'll take home nothing but happy memories.''
Referees: Vincenzo Cascone (ITA), Erick Chavarria (CRC), Christian Hauben (BEL)