Cameroon's not-that-unexpected journey to the Last 16

Madeleine Ngono Mani is Cameroon's top female goalscorer, but has not been on the scoreboard this tournament. Yet. Elsa/Getty Images

On the surface, Cameroon reaching the knockout rounds of the Women's World Cup in France came as a bit of a shock, but a look at the team's record suggests otherwise.

The Indomitable Lionesses finished third in their group thanks to a last-gasp 2-1 win over New Zealand in their final group game, making it back to back trips out of the round robin stage. They did it in 2015 too, winning two of their three matches in Canada before losing to China in the Last 16.

This edition saw them in a much trickier group, with the Kiwis ranked in the top 20 and clear favourites for that third advancing spot. That they were fairly poor throughout shouldn't negate 46th-ranked Cameroon's achievement in beating them.

Four years ago, Cameroon encountered (and beat) Ecuador and Switzerland, far inferior opposition compared to Canada and the Netherlands, both of whom are outside bets to reach the final and neither of whom demolished the Cameroonians.

The Canadian and Dutch sides are filled with pros who ply their trades in either Europe's Champions League sides or in the National Women's Soccer League in the US. Cameroon's most notable player is four-time African female player of the year Gabrielle Onguene of CSKA Moscow.

They do have one player in the NWSL, namely Sky Blue's Estelle Johnson, a veteran of the American professional league system in all its guises. Though born in Cameroon (which is how she qualifies to play for them), her father is American and her mother from Mali, and she grew up in Colorado before matriculating from the University of Kansas in 2009.

There have been braces, hat-tricks, and multiple scorers aplenty so far in France (most notably Alex Morgan and Sam Kerr) and Cameroon boasts one too. Ajara Nchout scored both goals against the New Zealanders, including an injury-time winner (the latest goal in a World Cup match at 94 minutes and 49 seconds) after an own goal negated her earlier effort.

Next up is third-ranked England, pitting two Lioness-themed sides against each other. The English won all three of their group games but none in a rout, and will need to be on high alert against their motivated African opponents.