Despite Breel Embolo scoring the game-winning goal for Switzerland against his native Cameroon on Thursday at the World Cup, Cameroon coach Rigobert Song made no secret of his admiration for the forward.
A goal by Embolo in the second half off a cross by Xherdan Shaqiri proved to be the difference as Switzerland defeated Cameroon in a 1-0 match at Al Janoub Stadium to earn a winning start to their Group G campaign.
Given that Embolo was born in Cameroon but spent much of his childhood there, representing Switzerland, the goal takes on added significance.
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Embolo has ties to the country of his birth even though he has chosen not to play for the national team, as revealed by Song.
Therefore, Song was pleased to see Embolo win on Thursday.
Song told reporters, “Yes, but that’s the nature of the game,” when asked if he would have liked Embolo to play for Cameroon.
“We are all proud of our country; you saw he didn’t celebrate his goal. But again, this [players representing other countries] is part and parcel of football.
“I’m happy for him and proud of him. Because he’s playing for the Switzerland team, yes, I’d have liked him on my side, but that’s not the way it went. That’s just the way of life.
“For us, the most important thing is how we played rather than who scored against us.”
Song and Embolo embraced at the final whistle, with Song later explaining that he felt it was important to show respect to the Monaco player by doing so.
Song explained their familiarity, saying, “We know each other, he’s my little brother, and I’m like the big brother, and we’ve often spoken on the phone.”
“I wanted to congratulate him; it’s fair play. Because we are from the same family [country], but on different teams, it doesn’t mean we are not going to be on good terms.
“He had a good game; I wanted to tell him. I’m not going to be a sore loser; we’re still brothers at the end of the day.”
Murat Yakin, the Switzerland manager, was generally less forthcoming than Song when speaking to the media after the game. Still, he did express some satisfaction with the backstory of Embolo’s goal.
“We know his story, his past in Cameroon,” he added. “Well, you can be friendly up to kick-off and then they are your opponents.
“[Embolo’s story] is football, it’s writing history, these stories. Of course, he wants to score for his team and fulfilled his task, so we are very happy. He had good moments throughout the match. He fulfilled his task well.”
On Monday, Switzerland will take on Brazil, while Cameroon will look to rebound against Serbia. If they lose again, they will tie Mexico for the most consecutive World Cup losses (nine).
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