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Sunday , January 29 2023

Brazil advance to WC round of 16

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Cameroon stage comeback after dropping goalkeeper – Ghana hold off SKorea, stave off elimination

Brazil’s Casemiro, covered by his teammates, celebrates after scoring his side’s opening goal during the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil and Switzerland, at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

DOHA, Qatar, Nov 28, (AP): Brazil overcame the absence of Neymar to beat Switzerland 1-0 and advance to the round of 16 of the World Cup on Monday. Casemiro scored in the 83rd minute with a shot from inside the area to put Brazil in the last 16 with a match to spare in Group G. Brazil striker Neymar stayed at the team’s hotel treating a right ankle injury sustained in the opener in Qatar. Team doctors have not yet given a timetable on his return – or said if he will return at all.

The win gave Brazil six points from two matches, leaving Switzerland with three. Serbia and Cameroon, which drew 3-3 earlier Monday, have point each. Switzerland need a win in the last match against Serbia to guarantee their spot in the next stage. A draw may be enough depending on the match between Brazil and Cameroon. Cameroon staged an impressive comeback in a 3-3 draw against Serbia at the World Cup despite replacing their goalkeeper at the last minute. Andre Onana, who plays for Italian club Inter Milan, wasn’t in Cameroon’s lineup or even at the stadium to watch the Group G match. Coach Rigobert Song said he dropped his starting goalkeeper for “disciplinary reasons,” but didn’t give any specifics.

“In a group you need to respect the rules that apply to everybody, and I prefer to ensure that the team take precedence over individuals,” Song said. “If you can’t fit in with what’s required to be part of a squad, then I do think that you need to step up to the plate and accept responsibility for that.” Song replaced Onana with Devis Epassy, who made only his sixth international appearance. “I took a risk, I realize that,” Song said. “Maybe we’re going to have to explain what happened later.” Song said Onana hasn’t been kicked out of the squad and didn’t rule him out of Cameroon’s last group stage match against Brazil on Friday. “For the time being I’ve asked him to wait and we’ll see if he’s going to stay with us,” Song said.

“It’s up to him as well to a certain extent. He’s going to have to agree to respect the rules to perhaps come into the squad.” Onana, who has 34 international caps made no comment on the decision except posting the starting lineup, with his notable absence, on Instagram. Epassy said he found out Sunday night he would replace Onana, who offered him encouragement. “We don’t have any problem together,” Epassy said. “It’s my role to be ready.” Cameroon was down 3-1 but second- half substitute Vincent Aboubakar turned the game with a goal and an assist. He lobbed Serbia goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic in the 64th minute to score his 34th goal for the Indomitable Lions, and set up striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting two minutes later for the equalizer.

“The lion roared today,” Aboubakar said. “I dedicate this result to the squad, and to the people of Cameroon.” The thrilling draw was the first game at the World Cup in Qatar in which both teams gave up a lead. But the result suited neither side. They each have one point after two Group G matches, behind Brazil and Switzerland who were to play later Monday. Cameroon took the lead in the first half through central defender Jean- Charles Castelletto’s 29th minute tapin but then conceded twice in quick succession in stoppage time. Strahinja Pavlovic’s headed in a free kick to level the score before Sergej Milinkovic- Savic struck from 20 meters just two minutes later. Striker Aleksandar Mitrovic made it 3-1 at the start of the second half after Serbia opened Cameroon’s defense with a series of quick passes. Aboubakar came on shortly after and led Cameroon’s comeback. “We were not smart enough to finish the match to our own advantage,” Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic said. “We have to be fully concentrated and we need to be on a higher level, especially in our backline because such mistakes should not be made and not repeated anymore.”

Ghana hold off SKorea
Mohammed Kudus scored twice, including the go-ahead goal after South Korea evened the match in the second half, and Ghana staved off elimination at the World Cup with a 3-2 victory on Monday. Mohammed Salisu also scored for the Black Stars, who lost their opening match against Portugal and were in need of points for a chance to reach the knockout round in Qatar. Down 2-0, Cho Geu-sung scored both of South Korea’s goals about three minutes apart early in the second half to even the game at 2-2. But Kudus’ low left-footed goal in the 68th minute sailed out of the reach of goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu to give the Black Stars back the lead. Goalkeeper Lawrence Ati-Zigi preserved the victory with a leaping save off Cho’s attempt in stoppage time.

South Korea forward Son Heungmin remained without a goal in Qatar. The Tottenham forward wore a mask to protect a broken left eye socket he sustained in a Champions League game against Marseille earlier this month. South Korea coach Paulo Bento was handed a red card in the moments following the match after a heated exchange with a referee. Ghana scored a pair of goals in a strong performance in the opener but fell in the end to their Cristiano Ronaldo- led opponents 3-2. South Korea played to a 0-0 draw in its opener with Uruguay. The team was making its sixth straight World Cup appearance. Ghana became the third African nation to make it to the World Cup quarterfinals at the 2010 tournament. Black Stars captain Andre Ayew was also on that squad. No African team has reached the World Cup semifinals.

Known for their controlled possession, South Korea dominated the first 20 minutes. Ghana broke through in the 24th when Salisu scored in a scramble in front of the net off a free kick. After a spirited celebration encircled by his teammates, Salisu nervously crouched on the field while the goal was confirmed by video review. Kudus, a 22-year-old midfielder for Ajax, doubled the lead with a header off a long cross from Jordan Ayew, despite the desperate efforts of defender Kim Jin-su. Cho did a knee slide in front of South Korea’s bench and was dogpiled by his teammates after his first goal in the 58th minute. His second came in the 61st. Ghana wrap up Group H on Friday against Uruguay, while the South Koreans play Portugal.

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