Cameroon coach Rigobert Song made no secret of his pride in Breel Embolo despite the Switzerland forward scoring the winning goal against his birth nation at the World Cup on Thursday.

Embolo's second-half strike from Xherdan Shaqiri's cross proved decisive as Switzerland won 1-0 at Al Janoub Stadium, giving Switzerland a victorious start to their Group G campaign.

The goal was even more notable due to the fact Embolo was born in Cameroon but represents Switzerland after spending much of his childhood there.

Despite not choosing to play for the nation of his birth, Embolo retains links to the country and Song revealed the pair share a strong personal relationship.

As such, Song felt a degree of pride in seeing Embolo prevail on Thursday.

Asked if he had preferred Embolo to have played for Cameroon, Song told reporters: "Yes, but that's the nature of the game.

"We are all proud of our country, you saw he didn't celebrate his goal. But again this [players representing other countries] is part and parcel of football.

"I'm happy for him and proud of him. Because he's playing for the Switzerland team, yes I'd have liked him on my side, but that's not the way it went. That's just the way of life.

"For us the most important thing is how we played, rather than who scored against us."

Song and Embolo shared a warm embrace at full-time, with the former explaining it was important to greet the Monaco player as a show of respect.

"We know each other, he's my little brother, I'm like the big brother, we've often spoken on the phone as well," Song said.

"I wanted to congratulate him, it's fair play. Because we are from the same family [country] but on different teams, it doesn't mean we are not going to be on good terms.

"He had a good game, I wanted to tell him. I'm not going to be a sore loser, we're still brothers at the end of the day."

Switzerland boss Murat Yakin was less forthcoming than Song in general as he addressed the media afterwards, but he did express a hint of pleasure in the narrative behind Embolo's goal.

"We know his story, his past in Cameroon," he added. "Well, you can be friendly up to kick-off and then they are your opponents.

"[Embolo's story] is football, it's writing history, these stories. Of course, he wants to score for his team and he fulfilled his task, so we are very happy. He had good moments through the match. He fulfilled his task well."

Switzerland face Brazil next on Monday, while Cameroon will hope to bounce back against Serbia the same day – another defeat will see them equal Mexico's all-time record for the most successive World Cup losses (nine).

Breel Embolo scored the winner against his birth nation as Switzerland beat Cameroon 1-0 at Al Janoub Stadium in their World Cup Group G opener on Thursday.

The Yaounde-born attacker refused to celebrate his second-half tap-in but his goal sparked jubilant scenes for the Swiss at full-time as Murat Yakin's side inflicted Cameroon's eighth successive World Cup defeat, one shy of the record.

The Indomitable Lions had the better of the first half and kept Yann Sommer relatively busy in the Switzerland net, though there were a couple of warning signs for Cameroon just before the break.

Embolo had been involved in one of those incidents and was fittingly the man to break the deadlock in the 48th minute, with Switzerland ultimately good value for the win after an effective second-half display.

Cameroon began with the greater purpose and should have scored 10 minutes in as Bryan Mbeumo blasted at Sommer and Karl Toko Ekambi inexplicably blasted over on the rebound.

Undeterred, Cameroon continued to look more threatening, with Martin Hongla testing Sommer from a tight angle 20 minutes later, and a crucial Silvan Widmer clearance denied Toko Ekambi a tap-in.

Switzerland finished the half stronger, however, and only a last-ditch Jean-Charles Castelletto tackle prevented Embolo a certain goal before Manuel Akanji nodded just wide in stoppage time.

But there was no denying Embolo just after the break as the Monaco forward swept home from Xherdan Shaqiri's low right-wing cross.

Andre Onana kept Cameroon in the contest just past the hour with a fine stop to thwart Ruben Vargas, but Rigobert Song's men were unable to capitalise at the other end.


What does it mean? Vital win for Switzerland as things only get tougher from here

With Brazil and Serbia to come, it was essential Switzerland came through this with a positive result – and that they did.

It certainly was not a vintage performance from a side Yakin called "one of the best Swiss national teams that have ever existed", but in the second half they often played with real fluency.

Switzerland are one of only three European teams to reach the knockout stages in each of the past four major international tournaments, and this was a big step to continuing that streak in Qatar.

Shaqiri dependable as ever

He may not carry quite the same influence over Switzerland's general play as he once did, but Shaqiri just always seems to deliver for his national team. His cross, cleverly pulled back slightly, gave Embolo an easy finish for the winner, giving the experienced winger his 12th goal involvement for the Swiss over the last four major tournaments, exactly 50 per cent of their total.

Vargas frustrates

He was full of running and endeavour, but this was largely a frustrating display from the left winger. Although his two chances created was a high for Switzerland, he wasted two glorious opportunities: one saw him slice a cross over the goal with Granit Xhaka awaiting a tap-in, and the second involved him failing to beat Onana from close range.

What's next?

Switzerland face the ultimate test when they tussle with Brazil on Monday. Cameroon will play Serbia the same day.

Ramy Bensebaini and Breel Embolo scored doubles as Borussia Monchengladbach unceremoniously dumped Bayern Munich out of the DFB-Pokal with a stunning 5-0 victory.

It was a horror show for shambolic Bayern at Borussia-Park on Wednesday as the Bundesliga leaders were put to the sword, conceding three times in the opening 21 minutes.

Bensebaini struck twice after Kouadio Kone opened the scoring with his first goal for Die Fohlen, with Bayern at sixes and sevens as head coach Julian Nagelsmann watched on at home as he isolates after testing positive for coronavirus.

Embolo helped himself to a quickfire brace early in the second half to help Gladbach cruise into the third round, knocking Bayern out at the same stage they were sensationally beaten by Holstein Kiel at last season.

Kone capitalised on slack Bayern defending to open the scoring in the second minute, side-footing in with his right foot after Alphonso Davies gifted Gladbach possession with a poor pass.

Jonas Hofmann should have doubled their lead when he failed to hit the target after racing clear and Manuel Neuer showed great reflexes to tip Embolo's drive over the crossbar, with the Bundesliga champions all over the place at the back.

Bayern were caught napping again in the 15th minute and Bensebaini made them pay, bursting into the penalty area unmarked and sweeping in Hofmann's cutback with his right foot.

Things went from bad to worse for the Bavarian giants when Lucas Hernandez was adjudged to have fouled Embolo and Bensebaini nonchalantly slotted into the back of the net from the spot.

Dayot Upamecano was enduring a nightmare on his 23rd birthday, and he gifted Gladbach a fourth goal six minutes into the second half, failing to deal with a high ball down the middle and allowing Embolo to get on the scoresheet.

Upamecano was hauled off after that mistake, but there was no improvement in the Bayern defending as Embolo struck again soon after, beating a stunned Neuer after Luca Netz sent him clear.

Yann Sommer denied Serge Gnabry with a brilliant save after keeping out a Robert Lewandowski header and Josip Stanisic blazed over the crossbar as Bayern were unable to salvage some pride.

Switzerland's remarkable run to the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 has captivated fans at the grounds and at home.

Still, there is only one member of Vladimir Petkovic's squad who consistently has his own song belted out in stands and living rooms.

Striker Breel Embolo epitomises the 'golden generation' of Swiss players to have emerged in the last decade: talented, spirited, and with a story to tell. He is captivating as a player and person, so much so that his name is sung with gusto at every international match to the tune of The Lion Sleeps Tonight. "Oh Embolo, oh Embolo..."

There's no denying his popularity, but where Embolo has so far fallen short is in matching early expectations. He made his Basel debut in March 2014 and scored minutes after coming on as a substitute in his first Swiss Super League match. Links with clubs including Manchester United began to emerge as he earned a spot as the youngest Swiss player at Euro 2016 – a squad packed with talent, despite being sourced from a country roughly half the size of French Guiana with a population of around a million fewer people than Hungary.

A big move to the Bundesliga with Schalke followed, but serious injuries held him back in Gelsenkirchen as he missed the best part of 21 months of action. Matters improved after a switch to Borussia Monchengladbach in 2019, although his progress has been disrupted by some off-field indiscretions including a six-figure fine and one-game ban after he was accused by police of fleeing over rooftops after a raid on an illegal party in January this year (Embolo denied he attended the party).

His ability, though, has never been in question, even as other Switzerland players have attained greater continental acclaim. As Urs Fischer, Basel head coach in 2015, said: "I've coached Josip Drmic and Admir Mehmedi, and with Ricardo Rodriguez you could already see in the Under-15s that he was going to have a huge career.

"Ricci also had this carefreeness and calmness, only with Breel it seems to me that it's all a step higher. And he did it in a way where I have to say: very strong!"

'Strong' is certainly the word to describe his performances at Euro 2020.

 

Embolo scored his first tournament goal for Switzerland in their opening draw with Wales, a game Robert Page's men would likely admit was one they should have lost. Embolo should really have been the match-winner: he attempted at least twice as many shots (six) as anyone else in the contest, goalkeeper Danny Ward denied him another two goals, and a VAR review intervened after he set up what looked to have been the decisive third goal.

Switzerland have since scored six more goals, three against Turkey and three in that amazing last-16 tie with France, and Embolo has neither scored nor assisted any of them. And yet, his attacking influence cannot be dismissed. After all, this is a player who scored five times in 31 Bundesliga games last season, who has averaged a goal every 243 minutes in 107 games for Schalke and Gladbach in Germany's top flight, but was summed up as follows by former Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel: "He's a player who runs enough up front for three. That means we don't expect a goal a game from him."

Prior to the quarter-finals, only two players – Kylian Mbappe (25) and Joakim Maehle (23) – had attempted more dribbles than Embolo (21) at Euro 2020. Seven of those take-ons were in the opposition box, the most of anyone at the tournament. He has had 30 touches of the ball in the opponents' box in four games, a figure bettered only by Alvaro Morata (32) and Mbappe (35). That sort of dynamism on the ball has proved key for a side who have averaged 52 per cent of the ball in their matches, the 11th-highest figure of all 24 teams.

 

What we have also seen is a supreme contribution off the ball, one that perhaps is at odds with a player sometimes seen showing more spirited antics off the pitch than on it. His combined total of 41 duels won and recoveries at Euro 2020 was the highest tally among forward players over the first four rounds of fixtures. It is precisely that mixture of hard work and direct running that could be critical to their chances against Spain, who are expected to dominate possession and persist with a high defensive line.

This tournament has looked like being a watershed moment for Embolo: a showcase not just of his ability, but his commitment to the cause and, at just 24, his leadership. Keep that going against Spain, and it will really be worth singing about.

Kieffer Moore headed home to earn Wales a 1-1 draw with Switzerland in their opening Group A match at the Baku Olympic Stadium.

The Cardiff City striker was recalled to Wales' starting line-up for Saturday's clash and justified interim boss Rob Page's selection call by earning his side a crucial point.

Switzerland had won their previous six games and were on course for another victory when Breel Embolo guided in Xherdan Shaqiri's corner early in the second half.

However, Vladimir Petkovic's side could not hold on and were further frustrated late on when substitute Mario Gavranovic had a goal ruled out for offside.

The draw leaves Italy top of Group A following their 3-0 win over Turkey in Rome on Friday.

Wales started the match brightly and went close to opening the scoring 15 minutes in through a Moore header that Yann Sommer did well to push over the crossbar.

Danny Ward was called into action up the other end to deny Fabian Schar after the centre-back turned Shaqiri's corner on target with a smart flick.

Switzerland soon took control of possession and squandered another big chance before half-time when Haris Seferovic fired off target from seven yards once teed up by Embolo.

The two men combined early in the second half as Seferovic played in his team-mate to race through and force Ward into a second big save of the contest.

However, Embolo held off Connor Roberts from the subsequent corner and headed Shaqiri's delivery past Ward into the bottom-left corner.

Kevin Mbabu scuffed wide from a good position and Switzerland struggled to make more of their possession, which would come back to haunt them 16 minutes from time.

Joe Morrell sent in a cross from the right and Moore, a presence at both ends of the field throughout, glanced a header in to get Wales off the mark.

Gavranovic thought he had won the game for Switzerland moments after being introduced from the bench, but his left-footed strike was ruled out.

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