Dominant defence sees Croatia cruise past Cameroon

09 Dec. 2023

Dominant defence sees Croatia cruise past Cameroon

After Montenegro had defeated Senegal earlier today, the other clash between African and European sides in Main round Group I ended with another win for the European side, after Croatia powered to a 24:15 win over Cameroon.

Main round Group I
Croatia vs Cameroon 24:15 (18:6)

Croatia's second straight victory in the main round was quite predictable, and with five points, they are still firmly in contention for a quarter-final berth. A crunch battle with Hungary follows for them, after they prepared with a win over Cameroon, 24:15.

Early in the game, Isabelle Mben saved Dejana Milosavljevic's penalty shot before Genie Feudji put Cameroon in front, 1:0. But Croatia bounced back and answered with a 14:0 run, tearing their rivals' defence apart with ease and denying them a single goal for as many as 21 minutes.

Cameroon made too many mistakes in attack, and they were often denied by Lucija Besen, who boasted a 54% save efficiency in the opening 30 minutes, after having a 76% efficiency at one point in the first half. And although Cameroon somewhat improved late in the first half, scoring five goals in eight minutes, Croatia led by as many as 12 goal at the break, 18:6, without any question about the winners of the match.

However, Cameroon should be credited for fighting hard after the restart, as they enjoyed a 6:2 run, cutting the deficit to 12:20 by the 43th minute. Laeticia Ateba led by example in attack, and Marie-Paule Balana made a few spectacular saves, denying Croatia a goal for eight minutes.

But feeling the pressure, Croatia improved their defence and netted twice in a row, but the score 22:12 stayed for as many as 11 minutes, as neither side could score before Cameroon's Paola Ebanga finally broke that deadlock in the 55th minute. The European side's win was never in danger, but even if they rotated the squad, but their attacking performance in the second half raised some questions, as the Croatians were restricted to just six goals in 30 minutes. 

Balana, who played only in the second half, boasted an impressive 56% save rate, while Besen had 48%, but while the goalkeepers did a great job, it was Ateba who was elected the hummel Player of the Match, thanks to her seven goals. 

hummel Player of the Match: Laeticia Ateba (Cameroon)