Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, Shizuoka, 11.06.2002
Bode 50., Klose 79. / –
Germany could very easily have booked their place in the last sixteen after two matches, but the injury-time equaliser for the Republic of Ireland in Ibaraki had thrown the group wide open, meaning that three out of the group’s four teams would have a chance of making it into the knockout stages. Before the final pair of fixtures Rudi Völler’s side would lead the group with four points from their first two matches, ahead of Cameroon on goal difference with the Irish in third place on two points – but with their last match against table-proppers Saudi Arabia.
The standings meant that Germany would have to secure at least a point in their final group match with Cameroon to book a place in the last sixteen, while the Africans – coached by former Karlsruhe SC coach Winfried Schäfer – would have to beat the Mannschaft to make sure of a place, unless the Irish drew or lost to the Saudis. The Irish for their part knew that a win would send them through irrespective of the other result, while the Germans knew that defeat against Cameroon coupled with an Irish win against the Saudis would send them crashing out of the tournament.
No German team had been eliminated in the first phase of the World Cup finals since 1938, but one could not have had a tougher final group fixture given the circumstances. Major doubts still lingered about the overall quality of Völler’s squad, and with Cameroon themselves fighting for a place in the last sixteen nobody would be taking anything for granted. Other big names had already fallen by the wayside having suffered at the hands of so-called “inferior” nations, among them reigning champions France – beaten in their opener by Senegal – and the much-fêted Portuguese, who had come a cropper against both the United States and hosts South Korea.
Having seen a number of key players drop out through injury prior to the tournament, the one big thing going for Rudi Völler would be squad fitness. Previous tournaments had habitually seen growing lists of injuries, but for the third match in a row the Nationaltrainer would name the same starting eleven. It was just the sort of stability this workmanlike side needed to keep things going.
Just over forty-seven thousand people would be in attendance at the Shizuoka Stadium to see the two sides meet for the first time at international level, with Spanish referee Antonio López Nieto taking charge on what was a dry yet humid evening. The Nationalmannschaft would be in their immediately recognisable white and black Trikot, while the Cameroon players would be dressed in their controversial vest-style shirts that they had to wear over black sleeved undershirts. It would be the third time in the three group matches that Germany would play against opposition wearing green.
A clearly relieved Marco Bode is congratulated by Michael Ballack and Miroslav Klose after scoring Germany’s opening goal against Cameroon
The final result would look convincing enough, but the 2-0 result would flatter Völler’s side slightly. In a match that could hardly have been described as ill-tempered, the card-happy Spanish referee would also put paid to the coach’s attempts to maintain his settled lineup with the harsh dismissal of Ramelow, and the sixteen yellow cards (and two resulting reds) would make this the most card-littered match in the history of the World Cup finals.
With the Republic of Ireland beating Saudi Arabia 3-0 in their final match, it meant that Germany would finish in first place in the group with the Irish pipping Cameroon for second and a place in the last sixteen. The second phase would see Germany move across the water to South Korea, and a match-up against Group A runners-up Paraguay.
Germany: Kahn (c) – Linke, Ramelow, Metzelder – Frings, Hamann, Ziege – Schneider (80. Jeremies), Ballack – Klose (84. Neuville), Jancker (46. Bode)
Cameroon: Alioum – Kalla, Song, Tchato (53. Suffo) – Geremi Njitap, Foé, Wome – Lauren Etame, Olembé (64. Kome) – Eto’o, Mboma (80. Job)
Referee: Antonio Jesús López Nieto (Spain)
Assistants: Mohamed Saeed (Maldives), Jorge Oliveira (Brazil)
Fourth Official: Pierluigi Collina (Italy)
Yellow Cards: Jancker, Hamann, Ballack, Ramelow, Kahn, Ziege, Frings / Foé, R. Song, Tchato, Geremi, Olembe, Suffo, Lauren
Red Cards: Ramelow 40. / Suffo 77.
First Phase Group D Table
|Republic of Ireland (Q)||3||1||2||0||5||2||+3||5|
Other results: Republic of Ireland 1-1 Cameroon; Cameroon 1-0 Saudi Arabia; Saudi Arabia 0-3 Republic of Ireland.