Cameroon, Aussies end in stalemate
ST PETERSBURG: Australia and Cameroon played out a 1-1 stalemate at the Confederations Cup yesterday that further dents both countries’ hopes of progressing in the eight-team tournament in Russia.
Andre Franck Zambo Anguissa had Cameroon ahead with the last touch of the first half, but a Mark Milligan penalty on the hour mark ensured a first point for both in Group B at the new Saint Petersburg Stadium.
Australia play Chile in Moscow on Sunday and Cameroon face off against Germany at the same time in Sochi in their final pool matches.
But the chances for both the African and Asian champions to finish in the top two and progress to the semi-finals look slim after they lost their opening encounters at the start of the week.
European champions Portugal’s 1-0 win over Russia on Wednesday has set the team on a clear path for the Confederations Cup semi-finals but the hosts are facing an early exit.
Tomorrow, Russia will face Mexico, who are tied with Portugal at the top of Group A on four points, in Kazan knowing only a win will definitely be enough to carry them into the semi-finals.
Portugal’s last match, also tomorrow, is against already eliminated New Zealand in St Petersburg and a point will guarantee their berth in the last four with even a defeat not necessarily fatal.
In earlier fixtures Russia defeated New Zealand while Mexico and Portugal played out a draw.
The Portuguese will be without midfielder Raphael Guerreiro, whose accurate cross was headed in by star forward Cristiano Ronaldo for the decisive early goal against Russia, although fears he had fractured an ankle have proved unfounded. His club, Borussia Dortmund, stated he had only bruising.
Russia appeared somewhat intimidated facing Portugal in the first half but picked up the pace in the second, putting more pressure on the opposition defence but nevertheless coming up short.
“We played much more fluently in the second half,” Russia’s coach Stanislav Cherchesov told reporters. “We appeared less apprehensive.”
Cherchesov said he was considering rotating some of the players for the do-or-die match against Mexico.
Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev said it was a good game and noted that his colleagues were relatively inexperienced as they build towards the 2018 home World Cup after a dismal Euro 2016.