Olivier Mbaizo’s dreams of becoming the first Union player to play at a World Cup while part of the club are still alive, thanks to one of the wildest endings to a soccer game that you’ll see.
Mbaizo’s Cameroon won, 2-1, at Algeria on Tuesday, with a 120th-minute goal from star forward Karl Toko Ekambi that levelled the aggregate score of the two-game series at 2-2. Algeria had won Cameroon’s home game of the set, 1-0, last Friday, and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting tied the aggregate at 1-1 in the 22nd minute Tuesday.
With away goals as the first tiebreaker, the series had to go to extra time because each team had one away goal. When Algeria’s Ahmed Touba scored in the 118th minute, it looked like Les Fennecs would prevail on home soil.
But Cameroon won a throw-in a moment later, and Pierre Kunde threw the ball to Collins Fai. He hit a big cross that Michael Ngadeu headed out of a crowd to Toko Ekambi, who shot the ball with a first-time touch as Algeria goalkeeper Raïs M’Bolhi — yes, the former Union player — charged off his line.
That tied the aggregate again, and with two away goals Cameroon held the tiebreaker.
The entire Cameroon team raced over to their fans in one corner of Algiers’ Mustapha Tchaker Stadium. Mbaizo, who didn’t play in the game, ended up right in the middle of the celebrations.
No Union player has ever played in a World Cup as a member of the team, though many Union players took part in the tournament before coming here. The closest the Union have come to having an active player at a World Cup was Carlos Valdés in 2014. The Colombian centerback was loaned to teams in South America before that tournament to raise his stock with Colombia’s manager.
Cameroon and all the teams that have qualified for Qatar will learn their group stage opponents on Friday, when the draw takes place in Qatar’s capital Doha at noon Eastern time (FS1, Telemundo).