New Zealand make history, quarters
© AFP

New Zealand have reached the quarter-finals of a FIFA tournament for the first time in their history after handily beating Cameroon 3-1 in their final Group E game at London 2012. The Oceania hopefuls will now take on giants USA in the last eight, while the west Africans head for home.

The Kiwis were organised and sharp from the opening kick-off, running hard and keeping hold of the ball against their talented African opponents. Their first chance, and the first of the game, came after 17 minutes when Ria Percival’s cross from the left was missed by everyone in the box and very nearly sneaked in at the back post.

Katie Hoyle had the next opportunity on goal, slamming a long-distance shot off the woodwork in the 33rd minute. Cameroon went right up the other side six minutes later, but Adrienne Iven’s shot from a tight angle was parried away by Jenny Bindon in the New Zealand goal.

With just two minutes left in the opening period, the New Zealanders took a well-deserved lead, scoring their first goal of London 2012. Captain Rebecca Smith headed home from a Percival corner-kick at the far post with Cameroon’s goalkeeper Annette Ngo Ndom flailing.

Three minutes after the interval, New Zealand made it 2-0. Rosie White burst into the Cameroon box and rounded the goalkeeper. Her cross was then deflected into the goal by the unfortunate Ysis Sonkeng, with the Cameroon defender left holding her head in her hands. The New Zealanders then added a third in the 62nd minute when Sarah Gregorius nodded home a cross from White in emphatic fashion.

With a quarter-hour to go, Cameroon grabbed a consolation goal, one that was greeted with great enthusiasm by the fans in Coventry. Iven flicked a corner-kick toward goal and Gabrielle Onguene got a slight touch to put it in the back of the net for Cameroon’s first-ever goal at a Women’s Olympic Football Tournament.

New Zealand now move through to the quarter-finals, where they will meet holders USA in Newcastle. Cameroon will have to be content with their historic goal as their Olympic adventure comes to an early end.