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Rediff.com  » Sports » Nehru Cup: Cameroon beat Maldives 3-1, set up final with India

Nehru Cup: Cameroon beat Maldives 3-1, set up final with India

August 29, 2012 21:27 IST

Cameroon made light work of Maldives, beating the islanders 3-1, to set up a summit showdown with hosts India in the Nehru Cup football tournament in New Delhi. 

Kingue Mpondo was the star of the day for Cameroon as he scored twice, in the 12th and 39th minutes, to lead the Indomitable Lions into the final of the tournament in their maiden appearance. 

Ebanga Bertin, who had scored a double in his team's 5-0 demolition of Nepal the other night, added to the tally when he scored from the spot in the 50th minute, after referee Mohammad Hamad awarded them a penalty for a foul committed by Ali Ashadh, who was guilty of pulling Mpondo by his shirt. 

Ali was subsequently given the marching orders, which did not go down well with Maldives. For Maldives, Abdul Akram Ghani struck the consolation goal in the 26th minute. 

The win has lifted Cameroon to the top of the standings alongside India – both have seven points from four matches with the help of two wins and a draw each. The result has left nothing to permutations and combinations, as Maldives could not mange more than six points from their four league engagements. 

Cameroon were on the money from the word go and they were rewarded for their enterprise, when Mpondo drew the first blood for his third goal of the tournament at the floodlit Jawaharlal Nehru stadium.

Coming off his double strike against whipping boys Nepal, Kologny Merime crossed from inside the box, and Mpondn completed the job slamming in a volley. 

Even as the Africans dominated proceedings on the field, Maldives found the equaliser against the run of play as Ghani, after a one-two with Easa Ismail, broke through the Cameroon defence to make it one-all. 

Maldives, however, could not hold on to the 26th-minute equaliser as Mpondo scored his second of the evening when he headed in Thierry Makon's flag-kick in the 39th minute. 

Left unmarked inside the box, Mpondo headed in with such ferocity that the ball crashed into the back of the net, giving Maldives goalkeeper Mohamed Imran no chance.

Faced against Cameroon's relentless attack, Maldives conceded one more time in the match, barely three minutes into the second half. 

The islanders, who otherwise have been impressive in the five-nation tournament under the leadership of their talismanic skipper Ashfaq Ali, could not raise their game to the required level. 

Needing a win to stay afloat, it was always going to be a difficult task against the physically superior African side who had, in the 1990 World Cup, qualified for the quarterfinals. 

Coming into the tournament as the highest ranked side, Cameroon, despite missing some of the more established players who are doing duty in Europe, continued to impress after a subdued start. 

That they could not exhibit their skills to the fullest in the 2-2 draw with Syria in their opening match, was partly due to the downpour that had left the surface slushy. 

As expected, they were in their element in their next match against Nepal. If that was not enough, the mauling of Maldives should vindicate their billing. 

Up next is India, and the Africans are aware of the threat the hosts could pose under the tutelage of Dutchman Wim Koevermans.

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