Cameroon’s starting line-up for Saturday afternoon’s game against Mauritius has been released with Javier Clemente giving a first competitive start for the U.S.-based winger Mbuta Adongcho.
Idris Carlos Kameni (GK); Benoit Angbwa (RB) - Nicolas Nkoulou (CB)-Aurelien Chedjou (CB) – Gaetan Bong (LB); Eric Djemba Djemba (CM) -Alexandre Song (CM); Henri Bedimo (WL) -Matthew Adongcho (WR)- Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (FW) –Samuel Eto’o (ST).
Cameroon needs to score goals. They have been unable to score in a competitive fixture in almost a year. The last time they scored and/or won a game was in their 3-1 defeat of Mauritius in September last year.
Cameroon media seem to think coach Javier Clemente has decided on a 4-4-2 to end this goal scoring drought. I suspect the team will pan out as a 4-2-3-1 on the pitch as was the case against Senegal in Yaounde.
The 4-2-3-1 formation gives them reliability in defence (with 2 central midfielders + back 4) and flexibility in attack (with three attacking player behind the main striker).
To make the formation even more attacking – the coaches could recommend a greater contribution from the full-backs in support of the high wide midfielders to offer more width. That was not the case against Senegal. Song and Djemba may be nominally defensive midfielders but they have shown in their clubs that they have the intelligience and technique to surge forward. They would be required to be more involved in attack.
Playing as a 4-2-3-1 balances the team and the numbers in midfield allow the team to play for possession well, often with numbers up, especially against an opponent that is likely to play five men in midfield.
Mauritius are not travelling to Yaounde with a realistic hope of beating Cameroon. Mauritius would seek to keep things tight at the back and concede as few goals as possible. Last year, they played a very defensive 4-5-1 against Cameroon and would certainly reappear in that formation. Their plan being to sit deep, defend and if possible counter-attack.
Cameroon on the other hand need to score. Score to regain confidence in themselves; score to prove that there is some relative improvement in their out-put; score to get the fans behind them again; score as many goals as possible to keep their slim hope of qualification going.
A few things to note about Clemente’s choices.
1. Sebastien Bassong has fallen down the pecking order. In Stephane Mbia’s absence, the coach has opted for Chedjou as Nkoulou’s centre-back partner. Chedjou has been playing more regularly for his professional club than Bassong. Hopefully, the versatile Lille player (he can also play in midfield) would wipe out the souvenir of an unsettled player who scored an own-goal at the Africa Cup of Nations when he was fielded as a central defender for Cameroon.
2. In midfield, Clemente decided to drop Landry N’Guemo and Enoh Eyong, preferring Alexandre Song and Eric Djemba who have not played with the team for a very long while. Hopefully, their experience gets them to instantly click with their teammates.
3. In attack, Clemente called or recalled several attackers but he seems to have preferred the people he knows. He thus plays Bedimo (a leftback at his club) in a more attacking role. He also chose to play Adongcho ahead of the crowd of Europe based forwards in the camp. Adongcho is a natural wide player that the staff discovered during a special selection camp. He scored in a friendly against Macedonia. The coaches have since kept him in the squad despite media reports that he might not be playing regular football in America.
Goodluck to Clemente and his team and see you after the game for a tactical analysis.