20 June 2015 01:37
It is likely Edmonton has never seen anything like it. A massive group of Cameroon supporters filled an area behind the goal for the Indomitable Lionesses match against Switzerland on Tuesday, turning a portion of the Commonwealth Stadium into a small slice of Yaounde. A surprisingly large contingent from the local Cameroon community turned up decked in the familiar red, yellow and green, all the while providing a constant African-flavoured cacophony of noise, with many even sporting home-made banners bearing the names of their new heroines.
Little wonder an inspired Cameroon turned in a stunning display of dynamic high-tempo football in the second half to see off Switzerland – just the second win by an African nation over a European opponent at the FIFA Women’s World Cup™. “The support in the stadium was so inspirational, we felt like we had a 12th player,” forward Ajara Nchout told FIFA.com. And there promises to be even more support for the Indomitable Lionesses when they tackle China PR on Saturday in what is the nation’s first-ever knockout match in the Women’s World Cup.
“We have had fans everywhere we have played, but nothing like in Edmonton,” said Nchout. “We talked in the dressing room about how many supporters we had. We were really surprised there was so many of them, they seemed to take up a massive area. It was really joyful for us to find so many fans waiting for us at the hotel too. This is the first time I have ever seen anything like this for a match outside Cameroon.”
Nchout, who plays her club football for Western New York Flash – she is the first Cameroonian to play in the USA’s professional NWSL – scored in Cameroon’s 2-1 loss to defending world champion Japan. Now the aim is victory over China PR and a possible quarter-final clash with USA and a possible meeting with Flash team-mates Sydney Leroux and Whitney Engen. “It would be a nice thing to play against USA and my team-mates,” says Nchout. “We shared hugs and congratulations in the hotel this week.”
But Nchout has even bigger dreams than simply seeing off China on Saturday in the Round of 16. “I have a dream of winning the World Cup.”
Loud and proud
Nchout wasn’t the only Cameroonian hailing the value of the burgeoning local support, many of whom were even on hand to provide a colourful welcome to the team when they arrived back at the hotel following their storied win. “They [the Cameroon supporters] understand they play an important role,” said coach Enow Ngachu. “They have understood that against China they need to be there in numbers.”
“It was really amazing,” added explosive winger Gabrielle Onguene. “It was really great, because they’ve supported us from the beginning. That’s why we went out at the end of the match to thank the fans that came out in such great numbers.”
Confidence is high now in the Cameroon camp now that they have had a taste of the big match atmosphere in their maiden tournament. “We will write another page in the history of African football,” said Onguene.
“I think that’s how a lion behaves, added Onguene of the team’s high-intensity second-half performance against the Swiss. “When they get hungry they become really ferocious. And it’s when lions have to find something to eat that you don’t really recognise them anymore.”
Confederation of African Football (CAF) News