The Indomitable Lionesses of Cameroun have roared their way into the Round of 16 stage of the Women's World Cup (WWC) after beating New Zealand 2-1 in their final Group E on Thursday at the ongoing tournament in France.
A brace from forward Ajara Njoya Nchout who plays for Norwegian side, Vålerenga, ensured that the Lionesses secured one of the four spots for the best third-placed teams joining Brazil, China and Nigeria in that category for the next round of the competition.
It is the first time an African country other than Nigeria have made it to the knockout stage of the WWC. This is Cameroun's second WWC participation but exited at the group stage at the maiden appearance in 2015.
Ajara Nchout kept her calm to score the first goal for Cameroun
Aware that only a win could see them advance, Cameroun began the game on a very high note, harrassing the Ferns of New Zealand right from the start, but the brave saves from goalkeeper and the misses, left them without a goal to end the first half.
The third African representatives at this tournament kept the pressure on the Ferns and deservedly got the opening goal from a brilliant effort from Njoya on the 57th minute, slicing her way through her markers before slotting the ball past goalkeeper.
Once the goal was scored, the Camerounians locked up their defence preventing the New Zealanders from causing trouble. However, an own goal from Aurelle Awona gifted Oceania side the equaliser.
Aurelle Awona was disappointed for her own goal that gave New Zealand the equaliser
A hard-pressed Awona in a bid to clear the ball from a Katie Bowen cross, rather tapped it into the net much to her own disappointment.
That momentarily disorganised the Camerounians, but soon they recovered and pressed again.
The Indomitable Lionesses smile into the Round of 16
Nchout, once again came to the rescue of her team again when she scored deep in injury time (90+5minutes) to finally seal victory and qualification for the Lionesses.
For her effort, the 26-year-old striker was also awarded the Player of the Match award.
Cameroun will now play England in the Round of 16 tie on June 22.
In the other Group E game, the Netherlands beat Canada 2-1 to finish as group winners.