Playing his first match in a Cameroon side that made as many as nine changes, Bite Samuel put the visitors ahead even before the crowd of about 5000 settled down at the Jawaharlal Nehru. His second-minute strike, the fastest of the tournament, left the Indian defence flailing at thin air, and the partisan turnout shocked.
In the dress rehearsal ahead of Sunday's summit showdown, Cameroon ensured that they would go into the title clash with the psychological advantage of having beaten the hosts. Up against the 59th ranked side in the world, India did compete in patches, but failed to put up a show that would have impressed Wim Koevermans.
True, the Indians looked at the match as an opportunity to test their reserves, but so was their opponent. In the absence of rested Sunil Chhetri, India fielded Mandeep Singh and Jewel Raja. They tried, but against a country that produced players like Roger Milla and Samuel Eto and once reached the quarterfinals of FIFA World Cup, breaching the Cameroon defence was always going to be a difficult proposition.
On the other hand, even without the services of rested leading scorers Kingue Mpondo and Kologny Merime, Cameroon were served admirably by their replacements.