Tuesday 20 August 2019, 06:36

Was Nchout's last-gasp stunner the year’s finest?

  • Ajara Nchout’s stunning last-minute strike was as crucial as it was sublime

  • Her brace that day against New Zealand took Cameroon into the last 16

  • Vote now for the FIFA Puskás Award

Many great players have worn the colours of Montpellier down the years. One of them, a certain Roger Milla, made a lasting impression with the goals he scored during his three seasons (1986-89) at the club. Curiously, though, he may not have authored the best goal scored by a Cameroonian at the Stade de la Mosson.

That distinction could well belong to Ajara Nchout thanks to her wonder goal on 20 June against New Zealand at the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019™, which is now in contention for this year’s FIFA Puskás Award.

The context

Cameroon gave a good account of themselves in their opening two Group E matches against Canada and the Netherlands but still came away with nothing, which left them needing to beat New Zealand to qualify for the last 16 at France 2019 as one of the four best third-placed teams. Ajara Nchout thought she had done the hard part in putting her side ahead on the hour mark, the forward showing her skills to outfox the Kiwi defence and finish coolly. Yet, with ten minutes to go her hard work was undone when team-mate Aurelle Awona sliced the ball into her own goal, which left the Cameroonians with no option but to go all out for a winner.

As the match ticked into a fifth minute of added time, their hopes of finding one seemed to be slipping away, though Nchout was given one last opportunity when Gabrielle Onguene headed the ball on to her in the New Zealand half.

The goal

With much still to do, the striker cut inside Ria Percival before turning the same defender inside-out on the edge of the box. Advancing on goal she then clipped a curling shot wide of keeper Erin Nayler and just out of the reach of Football Ferns captain Ali Riley, the ball nestling just inside the far post.

Nchout’s amazing last-gasp winner triggered scenes of joy for the Africans, as her team-mates – the substitutes’ bench included – rushed to congratulate her. It was a goal that sent Cameroon into the last 16, where they faced England. Though their run would end there, the Indomitable Lionesses would return home with the satisfaction of knowing they had lit up the tournament with one of its unforgettable moments.

What she said...

"We showed that we’re Lionesses. When I picked up the ball just outside the area (before my second goal), I thought this is do-or-die time: if I miss, it’s game over. I took the time to dribble past the defender in front of me and I curled it in at the far post. If you rush it under pressure, you're going to miss; you need to control the ball. We won in Cameroonian style, proving it ain’t over until it’s over."

The best goal?

That’s up to you to decide. You have until midnight CET on Monday 1 September to make your voice heard and choose which of the ten selected goals deserves the FIFA Puskás Award.