On paper, Cameroon v Ecuador looked to have the makings of a compelling affair. Only thirty points, and five positions, separate them in the FIFA World Rankings. But when it comes to the Women's game, the FIFA World Rankings can be left at the door. Points are earned by matches played, and some associations play far more matches than others. Outside of the top ten or so associations, the rankings are meaningless. And that begins to explain how a match between two closely ranked sides can end in a six nil drubbing.
Gaelle Enganamouit may only be listed as 171 cm, 5'7" if you like, but against La Tricolour, she looked like a giant. She used her size and strength, clashing with Ecuador's Shirley Berruz from the whistle, and made life miserable for the girls in blue. They weren't about to handle her, and we're not sure that Switzerland or Japan will fare any better. She is a force to be reckoned with.
It was her shot that led to the opening goal. Berruz made a good stop, but the ball dropped favourably to Madaleine Ngono Mani, and that as they say was that. It took less than two minutes for Enganamouit to double Cameroon's lead. And as the clock ticked towards halftime, Christine Manie buried a penalty kick to give them a commanding three goal advantage.
Things went from bad to worse for the Ecuadorians when Captain Ligia Moreira was ejected in the 66th minute for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. Katherine Ortiz appeared to earn a caution for coming onto the pitch before she was allowed to do so, then had to wait as the board malfunctioned. Shortly after things were sorted out, Enganamouit made it four nil. It was that kind of night for the South Americans.
Before the night was out, they would concede two more penalties. And without actually playing particularly badly, they found themselves on the wrong side of a six nil score line. Down to ten women, conceding three penalty kicks, Ecuador were always going to struggle, but they did manage forty-two attacks, twenty-five of which were dangerous, and had forty-two percent of the possession.
They were outplayed to be sure. Cameroon had seventy-five attacks, fifty-three of which were dangerous, and they had the other fifty-eight percent of the ball. They played well. They buried their chances. But they did get some favourable calls go their way. On another night, it could have gone very differently. But that's what makes these matches so special. Anything can happen.
You can play well and still lose, or play well, and end up with a score that looks like you hammered your opponents. When La Tricolour take on Switzerland on Friday, both sides will be looking for their first points of the tournament. They still have everything to play for.
But for Cameroon, they have a real chance to make some waves. An upset over defending champion Japan would see them favourites to win the group, and face one of the third placed teams.