Australia fought back to draw 1-1 with Cameroon in the Confederations Cup on Thursday, a result that further dents both countries’ hopes of progressing in the eight-team tournament in Russia. Andre Franck Zambo Anguissa put Cameroon ahead with the last touch of the first half, but a Mark Milligan penalty on the hour mark ensured a first point for both in Group B.
Australia play Chile in Moscow on Sunday and Cameroon face Germany at the same time in Sochi in their final group games. Yet the chances of both the African and Asian champions finishing in the top two and progressing to the semi-finals look slim. Germany and Chile, who face each other later on Thursday, both have three points.
Australia and Cameroon were meeting for the first time and traded free kicks in the opening 20 minutes but it took until the 37th minute for either to create an opening.
Australia keeper Matt Ryan was called into action after a smart one-two between Cameroon captain Benjamin Moukandjo and striker Vincent Aboubakar allowed the former to fire at goal.
The African champions ended the first half with a succession of corners and then opened the scoring with the last kick before the break. A long ball out of defence bounced over Aboubakar but Zambo Anguissa’s deft touch steered it past the on-rushing Ryan.
The Olympique de Marseille midfielder, who spurned a call-up to play for Cameroon when they won the African Nations Cup in Gabon at the start of the year, missed out on a second in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Australia levelled on the hour mark when Ernest Mabouka brought down Alex Gersbach to concede a penalty, after Serbian referee Milorad Mazic consulted the Video Assistant. Stand-in skipper Milligan stepped up and converted from the spot.
Mabouka sought to make amends with a strong run down the right in the 65th minute before he teed up Aboubakar right in front of goal, but the burly striker lifted the ball over the crossbar. Aboubakar then headed over from a similar position with 12 minutes remaining. Cameroon coach Hugo Broos said it was unfortunate that striker Aboubakar had an off-day.
“This is the life of a front player, sometimes you score with your eyes closed and sometimes you miss chances you can’t afford to miss,” the coach told reporters. “Today was a bit unlucky for him… that can happen, it’s a pity for us that it happens today. The chances were there but we didn’t score, and then you don’t win the game.”