- Ajara Nchout defied injury to star for Cameroon at France 2019
- The Africans beat New Zealand a year ago today
- Her double sent the Lionesses into last 16
Saturday 20 June marks a year to the day since Cameroon played a match that their fans will long remember. After losing both their opening games in Group E of the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™, the Indomitable Lionesses had to beat New Zealand in their final outing to have any hope of qualifying for the round of 16 as one of the best third-placed teams.
And win they did, with Ajara Nchout proving their hero in a thrilling match, scoring both their goals, the second of them deep into injury time. With the game locked at 1-1 and both sides poised for an early flight home, the forward won it for Cameroon with a stunning solo effort.
Nchout, who plays for Norwegian club Valerenga Fotball, joined FIFA.com to look back at one of France 2019’s most exciting matches.
🇨🇲 Cameroon 2-1 New Zealand 🇳🇿
FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 (Group E)
Thursday 20 June 2019 | Montpellier
Cameroon: Ajara Nchout (57’, 90’+5’) // New Zealand: Aurelle Awona (80’ OG)
Relive the match
“Most people probably don’t know this but I shouldn’t have played against New Zealand. I took a blow to the knee in the opening game against Canada and had to go off. I came on in the second half against the Netherlands, but when the team was announced for the New Zealand game I wasn’t in it. I went to see the coach to tell him I wanted to play.
“He said I wasn’t 100 per cent because of my injury and that he didn’t want to risk it. I said to him, ‘I didn’t come to ask you to do that but you have to trust me. I’m going to play this game as if nothing’s happened. Forget about my injury.’ He just said: ‘Are you sure, my girl?’ And he changed the side. Everyone in the team was surprised.
“It was on my mind during the warm-up but as soon as we kicked off that was it. When the game starts and your pulse is racing, you forget about the pain.”
Nchout opens the scoring
“The cross came in from our left-back, Yvonne Leuko. I controlled the ball with my chest in the penalty box. The ball bounced up and I took a touch with my left foot before placing the ball past the keeper. That goal gave us a real boost because we knew our fans were expecting us to deliver.”
Awona scores at the wrong end
“People make mistakes. It can happen to anyone. I said to myself that we absolutely had to put it out of our minds and move on because I knew that if we lost, she’d feel so low. She had her whole family in the stands and her mum thanked me after the match. Aurelle was crying on my shoulder after the match and she thanked me for what I did. She thought we were going out because of her goal.”
A career-defining strike
“That goal was out of this world. I keep telling myself that my best goal and my best match are still ahead of me, but that game was one of my best ever. When my captain, Gabrielle Onguene, headed the ball on to me I knew I could go it alone. It’s the kind of situation I work on in training a lot. We were in added time and I was determined to make the difference.
“That match really put me in the spotlight and showed everyone what I can do, even though I’ve been in the national team for ten years. People still talk to me about it, both in Cameroon and elsewhere. I was nominated for the Puskás Award, which is pretty amazing for an African player. On an emotional level, it’s one of the greatest goals in the history of Cameroonian football, both men’s and women’s, and it’s an honour for me to have made our supporters happy and proud.”