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   June 6, 2002 | 1625 IST



France get the blues

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Cameroon overcome fighting Saudi

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Bill Barclay

Saudi Arabia became the first team to be eliminated from the World Cup when they lost 1-0 to African champions Cameroon on Thursday.

The Saudis, humiliated 8-0 by Germany in their opening group E clash, put up much stiffer resistance against the African champions but were undone by a 65th minute Samuel Eto'o strike.

The victory kept Winfried Schaefer's Cameroon side on course for the second round, although they have a tough last game against the Germans.

Cameroon forward Samuel Eto'o (R) celebrates with his coach Winnie Schaeffer after scoring. Germany are top of the group with four points, the same tally as Cameroon but with a much better goal difference. Ireland, who have drawn 1-1 against both of them, are third on two points with the Saudis out of contention on zero.

Cameroon striker Patrick Mboma and midfielder Lauren both had headed efforts ruled out for offside but after a nervous start Saudi Arabia held their own in a tepid first half.

Nasser Al-Johar's side improved after almost conceding a first-minute penalty, with the lively Nawaf Al-Temyat going close several times.


Striker Obeid Al-Dossary, later carried off with a worrying-looking knee injury, headed over their best early chance after nine minutes.

The Africans started the second half clearly invigorated by German coach Winnie Schaefer's halftime talk, and substitute Salomon Olembe, Lauren and Raymond Kalla all threatened to break the deadlock.

Al-Temyat hit back for the Saudis with a scintillating run and shot that was well saved by Boukar Alioum.

But Cameroon deservedly grabbed their winner soon after when Eto'o raced on to a through ball and beat Mohammed Al-Deayea, the Saudi captain in the absence of injured striker Sami Al-Jaber, with a low finish.

The striker celebrated his crucial winner by stripping off his shirt and running to embrace his blond-haired coach on the touchline.

Al-Temyat almost scored an outrageous equaliser with a 40-metre volley with 10 minutes left but it was not to be.

The match was a fascinating clash of styles between the Cameroonians who all play in overseas leagues and the Saudis who all turn out for teams in their homeland.

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