Saturday June 1st, 2002
Republic of Ireland vs Cameroon in Niigata
With all the media coverage of the Roy Keane affair circulating
around the world, it was time for Ireland to let their their football do the talking.
Cameroon kicked-off the first World Cup finals game in Japan and even
though the game took a while to get into its stride the Irish fans were clearly enjoying
themselves; even breaking out into a chorus of "Are You Watching Roy Keane?"
Cameroon showed they weren't in Group E to make the numbers up and
took the game to the Irish, hustling and pushing, switching flanks and testing Shay Given
with long shots.
As confidence grew in the Cameroon team Mboma, with his back to the
goal, flicked the ball into the area. Sadly it all happened too fast for his teammates to
For the Irish, Mark Kinsella and Damien Duff tried to get something
going and might have succeeded, if Cameroon hadn't been so organised and disciplined
behind the ball.
Raymond Kalla kept close to Robbie Keane and regularly prevented him
from causing a problem in the area.
At the other end Shay Given had to keep a sharp eye out for the
approach work of Geremi and Samuel Eto'o.
With all the pressure Cameroon were applying it wasn't surprising that one of their moves
succeeded. Geremi, on the right, passed forward to Eto'o - who managed to get behind the
Irish defense then pull the ball back from the goal-line, for Patrick Mboma to have a
relatively easy tap in - 39 mins.
Ian Harte couldn't do anything with his corners although a free-kick,
just before half-time, nearly went in off Rigobert Song.
Cameroon calmed themselves down by trying a little possession football
in their own half - Italian style - before returning to the dressing room with a
Half-time: Ireland 0 - Cameroon 1
Ireland started the second half looking for an equaliser and soon
found the lucky break they needed.
A poor clearance allowed Matt Holland to bring Ireland level with a first time strike,
through the middle of the area - 52 mins.
While the Irish fans increased the volume to show appreciation at the
score, Cameroon's heads didn't drop and Marc-Vivien Foe proved again that the Africans
were not to be underestimated.
Ten minutes after the equaliser it looked like Ireland would take the
lead in some bizarre goalmouth action. Robbie Keane was already celebrating, or trying to
claim a handball from Rigobert Song, but Boukar Alioum saved on the line and the Japanese
referee waved play on.
Just when it looked as though Ireland and Cameroon were set for a
stalemate, Robbie Keane struck the post, after good work from Damien Duff, with 7 minutes
left on the clock.
The Africans started to get frustrated but managed to hold onto the
draw, that they more than earned for their performance in the first-half.
Ireland 1 -
Man of the Match:
Samuel Eto'o - Always a threat to the Irish, it was his excellent trickery that led to
Mboma's first-half goal.
Jason McAteer (30 mins)
Ian Harte (50 mins)
Stephen Reid (82 mins)
Raymond Kalla (89 mins)
Rep. of Ireland:
1 Shay Given; 18 Gary Kelly, 14 Gary Breen, 5 Steve Staunton, 3 Ian Harte (21 Stephen Reid
- 77 mins); 7 Jason McAteer (2 Steve Finnan - 46 mins), 8 Matt Holland, 12 Mark Kinsella,
11 Kevin Kilbane; 9 Damien Duff, 10 Robbie Keane.
1 Boukar Alioum, 2 Bill Tchato, 5 Raymond Kalla, 4 Rigobert Song; 8 Geremi, 12 Lauren, 17
Marc-Vivien Foe, 20 Salomon Olembe, 3 Pierre Wome; 9 Samuel Eto'o, 10 Patrick Mboma (18
Patrick Suffo - 67mins).
Referee: Toru Kamikawa
Denmark, France, Senegal, Uruguay.
Paraguay, Slovenia, Spain,
Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Turkey.
South Korea, United States.
Korea First Round Matches.
Cameroon, Germany, Republic of Ireland,
Argentina, England, Nigeria, Sweden.
Croatia, Ecuador, Italy, Mexico.
Belgium, Japan, Russia, Tunisia.
Japan First Round Matches.
2002 World Cup Finals - Knockout Stage.
Group Tables - Leading Goalscorers.
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