Nchout’s ‘cool head’ fires Cameroon’s Lionesses into World Cup last-16

Ajara Nchout admitted she was aware of the weight on her shoulders in the seconds before she fired Cameroon into the last 16 at the Women’s World Cup.

Nchout’s stoppage-time strike secured a 2-1 Group E win over New Zealand in Montpellier and ensured the African side progressed as one of the best third-placed teams.

Asked at the post-match press conference what was going through her mind as she prepared to shoot, she said: “When I got the ball in the 95th minute, I thought, ‘Okay, there is so much on my shoulders’. But I took a bit of time, I kept a cool head and then I shot on goal.

“We had been waiting for this moment for a long time. In 2015, we got to the round of 16, so we really wanted to do ourselves proud. We didn’t want to just stumble through, we wanted to prove that we are the Lionesses.”

Cameroon snatched victory at the death when Nchout scored her second of the game in the fifth minute of stoppage time just when it looked as though Aurelle Awona’s 80th-minute own goal would prevent them from making it to the knockout stage.

New Zealand had been pressing for a winner themselves after being handed a way back into the game, and coach Tom Sermanni insisted there were positives to take.

He said: “You always have a feeling of failure when you don’t win any games.

“I don’t think the word failure is the right word, you just come up against teams that are a little bit better – teams like the Netherlands and today – so we’ll just have to look back at that.

“We’ll look forward to the Olympics and the next World Cup, and we’ll look towards a better result.”