Goals from Enoh Eyong Tarkang, Benoit Angbwa and Samuel Eto’o helped Cameroon to a 3-1 defeat of Sudan at the start of the LG Cup in Morocco.
The Indomitable Lions were without six of their regular defenders and had to make do with a right fullback (Allan Nyom) playing on the left and two central midfielders (Joel Matip and Georges Mandjeck) playing as centre-backs.
The weakness of this make-shift back four was evident in Mandjeck’s poor foul in the 18-yard box that led to Sudan’s goal from the penalty spot.
Cameroon’s head coach started with a 4-3-3 formation and the team played quick, brisk football in the opening stages of the game. The two fullbacks surged forward to support the attack and this was seen in Benoit Angbwa’s goal (Cameroon’s second) at the 35th minute of play.
The Anzhi defender was so high up the pitch that, he is the one who passed the ball to Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting at the edge of the penalty area. The striker’s shot was parried away by the Sudanese goalkeeper but Angbwa had followed the action and scored from the rebound.
However, in the latter stages of the first half and most of the second-half, Cameroon’s pressing was not consistent enough especially from midfield. The passing also dipped and became a bit sloppy.
The Sudanese were very quick and operated using rapid counter-attacks when Cameroon lost the ball in their half. Their attacking midfielders displayed cohesion and some purposeful interplay particularly in the second half.
The Nancy goalkeeper Roland N’dy Assembe showed he is a great shot-stopper when he replaced Idris Kameni. However, he needs to improve his distribution which these days is essential for goalkeepers. He often used long balls which basically returned the ball to the Sudanese.
Joel Matip proved he was an extremely talented player, probably one of the best on the night. He passed well, distributed the ball masterfully, intercepted effectively and read the game properly. Those qualities would have been useful in Cameroon’s midfield, especially in the second half. Hopefully, when the normal centre-backs return after this series of friendlies the coaches would attempt to play Matip as a holding midfielder.
Once again Choupo-Moting was oozing with class and skill. The Mainz forward makes football look so easy with exquisite touch and passing. He has clearly established himself in Cameroon’s starting team. Two goals were scored from rebounds following shots at goal by Choupo-Moting.
He was replaced by Vincent Aboubakar (Valencienne) who also displayed promise and showed signs that he is maturing tactically. Six months ago he would have delayed with the pass to Eto’o that led to Cameroon’s third. Now, the former Cotonsport attacker has added vision and intelligence to his natural talent.
Sali Edgar, another ex-Cotonsport player, has always had vision which he displayed during the African Youth Championships in South Africa this year. He was at the start of the move that led to Eto’o's goal but also provided much needed width in the second half when Cameroon’s game looked cluttered.
On the other hand, Jacques Zoua (yet another former Cotonsport player) seemed to over-burdened by his first senior cap for Cameroon. Maybe he would have had a better debut had his thunderous header at the 31s minute not crashed on the cross-bar. It was the ping-pong following that effort which led to Enoh’s curtain-raiser. He could improve his output once he is more confident.
Georges Mandjeck also had problems which may be linked to his unusual role as a centre-back. He had drops in concentration and his positional sense has to improve. It would be nice to see him in his natural midfield position, though.
Allan Nyom seems to be a very attack minded fullback making regular forward runs. Yet, one could notice he was uncomfortable playing as a left fullback. Hopefully, he would get a chance to prove his worth at right-back in the coming games.
Alex Song impressed going forward (as has been the case since his return); Samuel Eto’o was generally good, as an old hand should be. However, Jean Makoun was below standard and should not be recalled.