Five AS Monaco players featured in the opening round of World Cup games in Qatar, as Breel Embolo stole the headlines, netting for Switzerland against his country of birth, Cameroon.
Krépin Diatta and Ismaïl Jakobs were the first Monaco players to star in the tournament, with the latter’s preparation for the tie against the Netherlands hugely hampered.
Administrative banality almost ends Jakobs’ World Cup
Jakobs’ decision to switch international allegiance from Germany to Senegal was a relatively late one. Despite featuring for Aliou Cissé’s side in the last international break before the World Cup, FIFA still hadn’t processed his paperwork. Consequently, the full-back’s participation was thrown into doubt and only resolved hours before the game.
Given the all-clear, Jakobs had to settle for a place on the bench, but came on in the latter stages. Diatta played from the start, but couldn’t influence the outcome of the game as Senegal lost 2-0 against the Dutch.
France survive early Socceroos scare
Youssouf Fofana and his former teammate at AS Monaco, Aurélien Tchouaméni, both featured for Les Bleus as they came back from a goal down to beat Australia 4-1 on Tuesday. Tchouaméni featured from the start, as he often has in recent weeks, with his old midfield partner coming on in the final minutes.
Former Monaco forward Kylian Mbappé got himself on the scoresheet too as Didier Deschamps’ side got themselves off to a winning start. Axel Disasi didn’t play, but he could potentially start against Denmark on Saturday, with RMC Sport reporting that the former Reims defender is being tested as a right-back option ahead of the game.
A game-changing intervention
Takumi Minamio didn’t feature from the start against Germany, but he used his limited playing time to good effect. When he entered the fray in the 74th minute, Japan were 1-0 down. One minute later, and Japan drew level after the Monaco forward’s shot was parried into the path of Ritsu Doan, who couldn’t miss the rebound.
Japan shocked the Germans when they grabbed a late winner through Takuma Asano, with Minamino’s introduction proving a game-changing moment. Germany now face Spain in their next round, and they must win if they are to progress to the knockout rounds.
Embolo’s emotional goal
In a roundtable interview with Monaco Life prior to the tournament, Embolo spoke about the difficulty of choosing Switzerland over Cameroon.
“When I chose to play for Switzerland, there was always part of me that wanted to represent my country of birth. I am very happy with my choice and I’m Cameroon’s biggest fan,” he said.
The Monaco striker had the unusual sensation of facing his country of birth in a World Cup opener, and he marked the “emotional” occasion with the winning goal, which out of respect, he chose not to celebrate. He has now put Switzerland in a strong position to qualify from their group.