After 1st-round defeats, Cameroon, Serbia need World Cup win

Nov 26, 2022, 12:23 PM | Updated: Nov 27, 2022, 2:27 am
Serbia's Dusan Vlahovic, right, and Brazil's Thiago Silva, go for a header during the World Cup gro...

Serbia's Dusan Vlahovic, right, and Brazil's Thiago Silva, go for a header during the World Cup group G soccer match at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

(AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

              Serbia's head coach Dragan Stojkovic kicks the ball during the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil and Serbia, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
            
              Switzerland's Granit Xhaka, right, jumps for a header with Cameroon's Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa during the World Cup group G soccer match between Switzerland and Cameroon, at the Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
            
              Brazil's Vinicius Junior, left, challenges for the ball with Serbia's goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic during the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil and Serbia, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              Serbia's Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, left, heads the ball during the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil and Serbia, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              Cameroon's Karl Toko Ekambi runs with the ball during the World Cup group G soccer match between Switzerland and Cameroon, at the Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
            
              Cameroon's Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, left, is challenged by Switzerland's Nico Elvedi during the World Cup group G soccer match between Switzerland and Cameroon, at the Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
            
              Serbia's Dusan Vlahovic, right, and Brazil's Thiago Silva, go for a header during the World Cup group G soccer match at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
            
              Serbia's Aleksandar Mitrovic, left, heads the ball infant of Brazil's Fred during the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil and Serbia, at the the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
            
              Cameroon's head coach Rigobert Song gives instruction inside the box team area during the World Cup group G soccer match between Switzerland and Cameroon, at the Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Petr Josek)

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — After failing to score and losing their opening games, both Cameroon and Serbia need their strikers on target when they meet Monday at the World Cup.

“The highest level is unforgiving,” Cameroon coach Rigobert Song said after his team’s opening 1-0 loss to Switzerland. “We no longer have any room for error and we’ll be going for broke.”

Serbia has a fine finisher in Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic, but he has only just shaken off a groin injury. If he starts, coach Dragan Stojkovic would ideally pair him with Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Mitrovic has 50 goals for Serbia and his last-minute header against Portugal in Lisbon last year sent the Serbs to Qatar and put the Portuguese into a playoff. He started the 2-0 loss to Brazil but looked jaded, as did Vlahovic when he came on.

Stojkovic is hopeful Juventus left winger Filip Kostic will be fit to start. If he is, and the front three is backed up by standout Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, it could be a busy afternoon for Cameroon goalkeeper Andre Onana, who also plays in Italy’s Serie A for Inter Milan.

Cameroon also is likely to have a three-man attack with Bryan Mbeumo on the right of striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Karl Toko Ekambi on his left. Toko Ekambi scored five goals at last year’s African Cup of Nations as Cameroon reached the semifinals.

The 33-year-old Choupo-Moting has enjoyed a renaissance with Bayern Munich since Robert Lewandowksi left to join Barcelona, netting 11 times in 16 games. Song will hope he gets his 20th international goal at Al Janoub Stadium.

Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa has been a revelation in midfield for Italian league leader Napoli this season. He will be key to shutting down Milinkovic-Savic, who should drop into a deeper role if Serbia starts with two strikers.

A defeat knocks Serbia out if Brazil fails to win against Switzerland in the other Group G encounter, while a loss would eliminate Cameroon if the Swiss don’t win.

Meanwhile, the Serbian soccer federation was charged by FIFA on Saturday for hanging a political banner about neighboring independent state Kosovo in the locker room before playing Brazil at the World Cup.

___

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After 1st-round defeats, Cameroon, Serbia need World Cup win