Germany blew out Cameroon 3-1 to advance to the semifinals of the Federations Cup. The Germans will battle Mexico.
The Daily Mail:” t was a night which demonstrated to the watching England manager Gareth Southgate that the next generations of Germans are something to worry about, as the current group.
But it will be best remembered for video assisted refereeing causing an episode of mind-bending confusion, to which there was still no definitive answer as the teams took their leave of the stadium on Sunday night.
Referee Wilmas Roldan appeared to have allowed Cameroon’s Ernest Mabouka to escape without caution for bringing his foot down Emre Can’s thigh as they challenged for a ball five feet from the ground, just beyond the hour mark.
The VAR booth then summoned him over – seemingly to consider a punishment. The Colombian promptly returned to the field to dismiss Sebastien Siani instead.
Ironic applause and then anger from Siani gave way to pandemonium before Roldan was called back to the video monitors, returning to the field a second time to dismiss Mabouka and spare Siani.
‘I saw a red, then a yellow, then red, so don’t ask me what happens,’ said the baffled Cameroon manager Hugo Broos.
Roldan was wrong twice. Mabouka’s challenge was neither reckless nor violent, as Germany manager Joachim Low admitted after a win which makes him the first international manager to complete 100 victories, in his 150th game at the helm.
‘Can said he had been touched but he didn’t have the impression of a foul committed,’ said Low.
‘I saw that he touched the player but I didn’t have the impression that it was a mean foul committed with the intention to foul the opponent.’
Roldan has previous. He refereed the second game of the 2014 World Cup – Cameroon’s match against Mexico in Natal – and called two Giovani dos Santos goals offside when both looked on.
He did not referee another game in the competition. His part here had seemed like a rehabilitation.
Whoever the referee, this tournament has demonstrated that this layer of VAR officialdom is damaging the pace and energy of this sport and adding complications that need not existed.
Football is about its controversies and its refereeing imperfections are a part of that.
The melee was significant because the African side’s concentration was affected for long enough to allow the Germans to double a 1-0 lead, through a Timo Werner diving header, and it was he who then finished things up with an excellent finish from close range.
Kerem Demirbay made his mark too. They’ll tell you in Germany that the 23-year-old Hoffenheim forward is so one-footed that the only purpose his right leg serves is to prevent him from falling over.
It proved to be rather more useful than that when Demirbay collected a ball Julian Draxler had rolled imperially though Siani’s legs. He dispatched the ball into the net before he could transfer it from right foot to left, early in the second half.
Low was effusive in his praise of the young squad he has gambled on here, giving most of the seniors a break and calling on the trio of Can, Joshua Kimmich and Draxler to marshal the side.
His outlook was a contrast to that of Cameroon and Broos, whose side have struggled to make a statement for the African continent, to which they now return. They displayed energy in the first half of this game, which they had to win.
They had physicality in the tackle and were helped in the first half by the European side’s ponderous approach play. But the gulf in class showed both before and after that moment of controversy.
‘There’s still a difference between us and modern football,’ Broos said of his nation.
‘We still live on our past successes. I’m not accusing any player here – just pointing to training issues in Cameroon. A lack of pitches and infrastructure which is why it is impossible to train good football players. This is our main disadvantage.’
Broos’ players did fight to the last. They gave themselves a prayer when Vincent Aboubakar capitalised on Marc-Andre Ter Stegen’s indecision with substitute Nicolas Ngamaleu’s cross at the near post, late on, and headed in.
But Low’s young stars can bask a little longer in the sunshine of Russia’s Black Sea coast where Thursday’s semi-final with Mexico takes place – looking very much a team for the future as well as the present.