Women's World Cup: Cameroun battle for third-place slot to Round of 16

Author: Rosalind K. Amoh
Cameroun pray Round of 16 qualification at Women's World Cup
Cameroun pray for Round of 16 qualification at Women's World Cup

Despite a disappointing campaign so far at the FIFA Women's World Cup, Cameroun still stand the chance of advancing to the Round of 16 as one of the best third-place teams if they are able to beat New Zealand in their final Group E game on Thursday.

The Indomitable Lionesses, third in the Group E standings without a point after losing to Canada (1-0) and the Netherlands (1-3) in their first two games, play New Zealand at the Stade de la Mosson in Montpellier, and could make it to the next round of the competition if they pick their first three points. Per the qualification rules, a draw may not be enough.

The New Zealanders could also advance if they beat Cameroun, though they are yet to score a goal while the Camerounians have a goal. Both are trailing ona minus three goal difference.

Argentina, who went into their final Group D game with a point, failed to build on it to advance as they drew 3-3 to Scotland to all but dash their hope of qualifying for the knockout stage for the first time.

It was nonetheless a gutsy performance from the Argentines who came from 3-0 down to equalise in the second half.

With their two points as the lowest so far for the best third-place team, Argentina can only make it if the Cameroun-New Zealand game ends in a draw.

The other possible challengers, Thailand and Chile may not be able to qualify as they have the rules for qualification weighing heavily against them.

With the number of participating teams increased to 24 starting from the 2019 WWC, 16 teams made up of the top two in each group and the best four third-placed teams will progress to the knockout stage.

Onguene Aboudi's goal against the Netherlands could be a lifeline for Cameroun

To qualify as one of the best third-placed teams, the teams with the most points from the matches played, as well as with the superior goal difference in all matches will have the advantage.

Also, the most goals scored in the group matches will be a consideration.
When there is still a tie and not easy to decide, FIFA would then cast lots to determine who would be lucky to join the Round of 16.

So far, 14 teams have been decided -- 12 as top two from the various groups with Brazil and China also through as the best third-placed teams. Nigeria are strongly in there, but will have to wait till all the group matches have been played to know their fate.

Nigeria will advance to the Round of 16 as one of the best third-placed teams

The 12 teams made up of the top two from each group, are on six points or more just as Brazil who finished as the strongest third-place side after captain, Marta Da Silva helped her side to advance with her goal against Italy in their final group game on Wednesday.

Though they have qualified, some of the teams will still be engaged in some fierce battles in their final group games as they battle to determine who finish as group winners or in second place.

In Group D,  England won the uncompromising encounter against Japan with a 2-0 resulton Wednesday evening. A goal in each half by Ellen White helped England to end the group campaign with the maximum nine points, while the 2015 runners-up, Japan are on four points.

It was sweet revenge of a sort for the Three Lionesses who lost the semi-final clash 1-2 to the Asians when they met at the 2015 tournament.

The Netherlands and Canada will  slug it out from Group E to determine the final positions as both are on six points and three goals difference, but the Dutch have one against them, from their 3-1 win against Cameroun.

Defending champions, USA, will be up against Sweden and unless the latter wins, the champions will retain their position as group winners as they have a 16-goal difference. Both are on six points with the Swedes on a six-goal difference.