YAOUNDE: Two second half goals from Jean Makoun saw Cameroon to a comfortable 4-1 win over Tunisia to book their place in the World Cup finals for an African record seventh time yesterday.
In the Yaounde sunshine, Cameroon wasted no time in taking the advantage after last month’s goalless first leg in Rades.
There were just three minutes on the clock when Pierre Webo pounced on a defensive mix-up by the Tunisians, firing across goal, the ball bouncing in off the post.
But it took a majestic goal on the half-hour by Benjamin Moukandjo to give the Indomitable Lions breathing space as Tunisia paid the price for sitting back and letting the home side carry the game to them.
Moukandjo, brought in to add width and pace on the left, produced just that, collecting the ball and with a burst of speed, glided through three defenders and fired an unstoppable shot past Moez Ben Charifa from the edge of the area. But his over-exuberant celebrations, which saw him rip off his shirt and race in to the crowd, brought him a booking.
There seemed no way back for Tunisia and they did nothing in the first half to test Charles Itandje in the Cameroon goal, whose heroics in Rades set them up for the second leg. The visitors’ only significant foray forward saw Wissem Ben Yahia swing in a free-kick from the right side only for the unmarked Syam Ben Youssef at the back post to head over with the goal at his mercy.
Tunsia’s Dutch coach Ruud Krol, who was drafted in at the last minute to fire up the team for the return leg, appeared to have pulled off a masterstroke by throwing on striker Ahmed Akaichi as a half-time substitute for Amine Chermiti. Just four minutes into the half Akaichi produced a perfect finish, chasing a long through ball and powering a first-time volley beyond the reach of Itandje from the edge of the area. But Makoun restored the Lions’ two-goal advantage, rising above the defence to head home Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s corner in the 65th minute and wrapped it up four minutes from time when he slotted home the rebound after substitute Eric Choupo Moting’s shot hit the post.
Meanwhile, Ivory Coast drew 1-1 against Senegal gave them a 4-2 aggregate win and qualify for the World Cup finals.
Ivory Coast reached a third successive World Cup but they had to survive a tense conclusion to their play-off second leg clash after Senegal had gone ahead 1-0 on the night through a 77th-minute penalty by substitute Moussa Sow after the lively Sadio Mane was fouled by Didier Drogba. Another goal would have put Senegal through on away goals but Ivory Coast finished on top when Salomon Kalou drew his team level in stoppage time courtesy of a quick counter attack just moments after Kara Modji failed to double Senegal’s lead from six yards. AGENCIES