Cameroon left it late to end the dreams of Thailand in the Australia and New Zealand 2023 Play-off Tournament semi-final with a 2-0 victory at Hamilton’s Stadium Waikato on Saturday.
The 10-woman Indomitable Lionesses needed a late brace strike from substitute Gabrielle Onguene to see off their Asian rivals, who were also eyeing a third consecutive qualification and set up an inter-continental Group B playoff final date with Portugal.
The Cameroonians made a slow start but managed to cope with the pouring attacks of the Asians thanks to brilliant saves from keeper Ange Bawou in the opening 30 minutes of the match.
The most promising moment for the Central Africans came on the brink of half time when Charlene Meyong hit the crossbar just a few moments after Michaela Abam missed a sitter.
With a barren first half, Gabriel Zabo’s side came back into the encounter on a high with Collette Ndzana creating some scoring chances from the left wing but they could not profit from it.
In the 70th minute, Abam almost won a penalty inside the opponents’ box after her effort was deflected off the hand of a Thai defender but they were denied following a VAR review.
Four minutes later, Zabo brought in captain Onguene, and the CSKA Moscow forward broke the deadlock in the 79th minute with an easy tap-in off a brilliant pass from Ajara Nchout.
The Lionesses’ super-sub went on to dribble her marker before blasting home the second with her left foot into the bottom-right corner three minutes later to increase her side’s advantage.
A late incident in the additional time saw Cameroon goalkeeper Ange Bawou sent off for a poor challenge following a VAR review, with forward Tatiana Ewodo Ekogo putting up brilliant saves to protect the victory after taking over in goal.