Japan beat Cameroon, reach Round of 16

Reigning champions Japan have become the first team to qualify for the Round of 16 at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™ after a 2-1 win against Cameroon in Vancouver.

Despite never facing African competition at the Women’s World Cup before, Japan enjoyed an early lead after Aya Sameshima fired home a cross from Nahomi Kawasumi only six minutes in. Before too long the Nadeshiko doubled their advantage when Yuika Sugasawa headed Aya Miyama’s corner kick past Annette Ngo Ndom to the delight of the BC Place crowd.

After taking the 2-0 lead, Japan began to assert themselves well and established control over the match, leaving Cameroon only a few opportunities on the counter-attack to find a way back into the game. Gabrielle Onegune’s inch-perfect long ball to Galle Enganamouit nearly saw Cameroon get on the scoresheet, but Ayumi Kaihori did well to keep it out.

Just before the break, Madeleine Ngono Mani nearly found the back of the net from ten yards after a good show of skill from Enganamouit on the right, but her shot missed the target. It was more of the same after the interval, but Cameroon continued to push forward.

There was a melee in the middle of the Japanese penalty area in the 71st minute where Les Lionnes were shut down by a strong Nadeshiko backline that blocked two successive efforts from Ajara Nchout before Gabrielle Onguene missed wide.

Japan held on to their lead despite an admirable effort from Enow Ngachu’s side, including a late consolation from Nchout, beating Kaihori on her near post, and an Enganamouit header missing by mere centimetres in the final seconds. The on-field celebrations from the Nadeshiko after the final whistle indicated their joy in reaching the Round of 16 with one game to spare in the group stage.

Live Your Goals Player of the Match: Aya Miyama (Japan)