It took them about 20 hours in transit, but Cameroon’s team landed in Vancouver on Friday afternoon, marking the first appearance in Canada of a FIFA Women’s World Cup side.
Teams will begin trickling in over the next couple of weeks, with Australia the next team expected in a few days.
But Australia won’t be playing in Vancouver, unless it was to make the final in what would be a monumentous upset.
Cameroon’s Group C makes up the teams that will play at B.C. Place, along with defending World Cup champion Japan, Switzerland and Ecuador.
Cameroon, the second-best women’s team in Africa after Nigeria, is making its first women’s World Cup appearance, and its second appearance on the international stage after qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics.
“We look forward to good games here and will try (to win) by all possible means,” said Enow Ngachu, the women’s national coach for 10 years, at Vancouver International Airport.
“Our main objective is to do better than in 2012 at the Olympic Games.”
They lost all three of their games in London by an aggregate score of 11-1.
Cameroon arrived so early to acclimatize.
It was 32C with thunder and lightning in the capital, Yaounde, on Friday.
“We expect it to be cold and we want to be ready,” Ngachu said.
The tournament runs from June 6 to July 5, when the final will be held in Vancouver.
The Group C games at B.C. Place will be Cameroon/Ecuador and Japan/Switzerland on June 8 and Switzerland/Ecuador and Japan/Cameroon on June 12.
Other cities hosting games are Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal and Moncton.
The World Cup final is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. on July 5.
“We are in a tough group, but I think we’ll work hard,” said a jet-lagged Cathy Bou Ndjouh, a defender for Cameroon making her first visit to Canada.
“I hope we can be as entertaining as the men’s teams are at the World Cup.”
There was even a small welcoming party for the green, red and yellow-clad players.
“I’m very excited for us,” said Clay Somo, a native of Cameroon who owns Megatronic Cell Phone Services in Vancouver.
“This is our first World Cup competition, so I don’t know how we will do.
“Internationally, it’s too early to judge, but I hope we participate with honour.”
Next to Somo stood Barb Katz, asking him to explain soccer to her.
Better known locally as an enthusiastic hockey fan, she was there to greet the Cameroon team.
“Because you have to welcome everyone,” she said. “You have to.”
© Copyright (c) The Province