Category: Manchester United
Cameroon’s Joel Matip scored on Sunday (21 August) for his club in the German Bundesliga but that hasn’t made headlines in a weekend where the name Cameroon has mainly been associated to Samuel Eto’o's big money move to Russia’s Anzhi Makhachkal.
Eto’o will certainly keep making the headlines in the coming week, as he finally signs the contract that would see him earn 20 million euros and become the world’s best-paid footballer. But we prefer to focus on the Cameroon internationals who have been in action across Europe.
Joel Matip contributed to Shalke 04′s fantastic come-back from two goals down to beat Mainz 4-2 on Sunday. Matip started as one of the two central midfielders in Shalke’s 4-2-3-1 formation. He scored the third goal for Shalke at the 81st minute of play. Cameroon’s head coach Javier Clemente who has consistently refused to select Matip says the youngster is not mobile enough and is more for the future than the present.
Eric Maxim Choupo Moting came on as a second half substitute for Mainz but he was not able to repeat last week’s performance where he scored for his new club. However, Cameroon national team coaches should be happy to see him having regular game time.
Marcel Ndjeng started and played 83 minutes for Augusburg in their 2-0 defeat to Hoffenheim. Ndjeng has not been called up for the Lions since the 1-1 draw with the DRC in October 2010.
Nicolas Nkoulou played the full 90 minutes at the heart of Olympic Marseille’s defence in their goalless draw with AS St.Etienne. He was calm and assured and made some good long passes to his strike partners.
Henri Bedimo started at leftback for Montpellier when they beat Rennes 4-0 to go top of the French Ligue 1 standings. Georges Mandjeck started in central midfield for Rennes and played the whole game. Mandjeck last featured for the Lions as a second-half substitute against Senegal in Dakar last March.
Moukandjo Bile started his first game for Nancy this weekend after a move from Monaco at the start of the week. Nancy lost 1-2 to Sochaux and Moukandjo was substituted after an hour. He was replaced by another Cameroonian – Alo’o Efoulou who has not been selected for the Lions for about 18 months.
Lille beat Caen 2-1 with Aurelien Chedjou playing at right-back for the French Champions. Chedjou has been playing in central midfield for Cameroon since the World Cup in South Africa but normally plays as a central defender for Lille. For how long would he be deployed at right-back and how would that affect his game?
Landry Nguemo started as the sole holding midfielder in Bordeaux’s diamond formation as they drew 1-1 with Auxerre. Gaetan Bong played at left-back for Valencienne in their 1-2 defeat away to Paris St. Germain.
Henri Bienvenue Tsama came on at half-time but could not save his Young Boys Berne side from a 2-0 defeat in the hands of FC Thun. Chris Mbondi, U-20 international, came on as a 49th minute substitute for FC Sion as they beat Lausanne Sport 2-0.
Somen Tchoyi started again as a second striker for West Bromwich Albion against Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday. The Cameroonian worked very hard but his team were beaten 2-1 by their West London hosts. Tchoyi was substituted after 75 minutes.
George Elokobi came on as a very late substitute (90th minute) for Wolverhampton Wanderers as they beat Fulham 2-0.
Aston Villa defeated Blackburn Rovers 3-1 but Cameroon’s Jean Makoun watched from the bench throughout the game. Alex Song started his 3 match ban after stamping on Joey Barton last week and was thus absent from Arsenal’s 0-2 defeat to Liverpool.
This Monday Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Sebastien Bassong’s Tottenham Hotspur travel to Manchester to face the Premier League Champions. (We’ll update once the game is over).
[An audio review of Cameroonian performances in Europe is available of you click here]
Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson has praised the Cameroon international Somen Tchoyi for giving the reigning English Champions a tough test in their 2-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion (WBA) on Sunday.
“The lad Tchoyi gave us a bit of trouble,” Ferguson said after the match.
The 1.90m Tchoyi, playing as a support striker, worked the United defence for long spells in the game as he tussled with central defenders Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand and imposed himself physically.
He started the move that led to WBA’s equaliser by overpowering United’s young Brazilian fullback Fabio to recover lost possession at the edge of the Champions’ 18-yard. His strike partner Shane Long then finished the move with a shot that should have been stopped on another day by United’s keeper, David De Gea.
Tchoyi also impressed with his good –short and long range – passing and his willingness to take on defenders using speed and tricky dribbles.
The tactics used by Roy Hodgson, the WBA manager, allowed the Cameroonian to drop into his natural central midfield position and come from deep to occupy the space between the lone striker and the other midfielders in order to dictate play. He was also free to go wide to whip in crosses.
The former Liverpool manager praised both his attackers for putting pressure on United and regretted that they lost the game.
“I thought his (Long’s) performance in general was very good as was Tchoyi’s,” Hodgson said after the game.
It’s unfortunate that most Indomitable Lions managers have hardly thought of playing Tchoyi as an attacking central midfielder or a second striker which are (in my opinion) the positions where he is most effective. He is often used as a winger or wide attacker (in a front three).
Song Stamps Reputation
The former Union Douala player’s performance certainly paints a better picture of Cameroonian footballers than the temperamental display from Alex Song for Arsenal in their goalless draw with Newcastle United on Saturday.
Song played admirably well as a midfield sweeper in-front of Arsenal’s back-four but for some reason decided to stamp on Joey Barton after a challenge. Barton may not be most people’s best friend (as confirmed by his role in the confrontation that led to Ivory Coast’s Gervinho being sent-off) but there was absolutely no excuse for Song to stamp on the Englishman’s leg.
The defensive midfielder who hasn’t played for Cameroon since the 2010 World Cup may be suspended if the English Football Association decides to use video evidence against him.
Meanwhile, George Elokobi came on as a late substitute for Wolverhampton Wanderers in their 2-1 away win over Blackburn Rovers.
The other Cameroonians operating in the English Premier League were absent on the first day of the new season. Sebastien Bassong and Benoit Assou-Ekotto could not play because Tottenham’s fixture against Everton was postponed following rioting in London. Jean Makoun was left on the bench by Aston Villa in the Birmigham club’s goalless draw with Fulham.
Cameroon’s Joel Matip will have very few good memories of his first ever UEFA Champions League semi-final. He was part of a Shalke 04 team that lost 0-2 and was turned inside-out by Manchester United on Tuesday.
Matip started well in the centre-back role he was expected to handle in the absence of the injured Benedikt Höwedes. He made a few challenges and powerful blocks that prevented Wayne Rooney, Javier Henandez (a.k.a Chicharito) and Park Ji Sung from giving United an early breakthrough.
However, Shalke was not compact enough – leaving a lot of space between the lines. Park, Rooney and Ryan Giggs did not hesitate to fill these gaps which often meant that Matip and his centre-defensive partner, Metzelder, were often exposed and faced with 2 v 1 situations.
To make matters worse for Matip, Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Jurado who played as the central midfielders meant to protect the centre-backs (Matip’s usual role) were tame , did not press high-up the pitch to prevent United’s midfielders from passing freely and often failed to track-down the men they were supposed to mark (i.e. Rooney-Giggs/Carrick).
Jurado failed to pick-up Ryan Giggs’ run between the lines leaving the 37- year-old Welshman alone to slot the ball between the legs of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer for the curtain-raiser.
Two minutes later, Papadopoulos forgot to track Rooney who combined beautifully with Hernandez and slid into the space between Shalke’s defence and attack. Matip found himself having to decide whether to close-down Rooney or Hernandez (2 v 1) and ended-up in-between; allowing the Englishman to beat the goalkeeper for the second goal.
Matip, who is Cameroon’s lone representative at this level of the tournament, is still 19-years-old and has time on his side to reach greater heights. He is intelligent and has good positional awareness when he plays in midfield but he must work on his pace, especially when he is fielded in the centre of defence.
Shalke need to beat Manchester United with three clear goals in the second-leg to hope for a place in the final at Wembley at the end of May. That would be hard to achieve, if one has to go by the ease with which United played in Germany.
The English premier league leaders’ passing was sublime, Michael Carrick completely bossed the midfield, while Rooney displayed variety – dropping deep to support the midfield and darting forward to act as second striker. Were it not for Neuer’s great goalkeeping, United would have won by not less than 6-0.
Football fans in Cameroon enjoy Europe’s elite club competition, the Champions League, but they will have particular interest in next month’s quarter-finals as Samuel Eto’o's Inter Milan (Italy) have been drawn against Joel Matip’s Shalke 04 (Germany).
Many are expecting Eto’o, Cameroon’s captain, to continue firing on all cylinders as was the case in the eigth final game against FC Bayern Munich (Germany) when he scored once and made two assists to qualify his club. He is the joint leading scorer in the tournament.
However, the young Matip (not called up for Cameroon v Senegal) has been improving in his role as a midfield defensive maestro. He also plays as a central defender which means he may end up being the one to hold his national team captain in check.
Hopefully, Javier Clemente, the Indomitable Lions’ manager and his assistant Omam Biyick will be watching that game to note that Matip is as good as (if not better than) some of the players regularly selected for Cameroon these days.
The first-leg takes place in Italy on 5 April and the second leg in Germany on 13 April.
Another fixture of interest to Cameroonians following Friday’s draw will be the Tottenham Hotspur (England) versus Real Madrid (Spain) games.
Two Indomitable Lions play for Spurs: Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Sebastien Bassong. Whereas the left-back (Assou-Ekotto) starts every game for the north Londoners (except he’s injured or suspended), the centre-back (Bassong) has had tough competition from several world class defenders playing in his position.
It will surely be exciting to see Assou-Ekotto sprinting and dribbling down that left flank as has been most often the case this season. The first leg- will be at the Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on 5 April and the return leg on 13 April at White Hart Lane, London.
The other fixtures include a spectacular clash between FC Barcelona (Spain) and Shaktar Doniesk (Ukraine). Both teams are stylish, prefer an attacking game and score lots of goals.
The all-English contest between Manchester United and Chelsea FC is already providing several blogs from the country’s football observers. Both teams met in the 2008 final of the competition won by United after post-match penalty kicks.
Alexandre Song scored the curtain raiser in Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat of Chelsea on Monday night in the English Premier League.
The midfielder, who hails from Cameroon, was at the end of a string of passes by the north London side at the edge of a crowded Chelsea 18 yard area, one minute before half-time.
It was Song’s fifth goal of the season as he seeks to make Arsenal fans forget Patrick Vierra, the French holding midfielder, who played Song’s role in the club’s most successful years of the decade.
Meanwhile, Song has not featured for Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions since the World Cup in South Africa last June. He was reportedly involved in the internal fracas that seems to have affected the west/central Africans at the tournament.
He seems to happy at his professional club that has moved to the second position of the English League with 35 points (alongside Manchester City) just behind leaders, Manchester United (37 points).
Arsenal’s other goals were scored just after the break by captain Cesc Fabregas (51st minute) and Englishman Theo Walcott (53rd minute) . Chelsea reduced tally via defender Branislav Ivanovic in the 57th minute.
Cameroon’s Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Sebastien Bassong put in a solid display in Tottenham Hotspur’s 1-1 draw with reigning English premier league champions Chelsea.
Assou-Ekotto prevented Chelsea’s Salomon Kalou and later Daniel Sturridge from rampaging down the flank and making dangerous crosses. He was also prompt to cover his central defenders during sharp Chelsea counter-attacks, earning him a lot of praise from Sky TV commentators throughout the game.
The Cameroonian left-back, who is often criticised by some Spurs fans for his positioning, contributed to his team’s goal via a wonderful through ball for Jermaine Defoe behind the Chelsea right-back Paulo Ferriera. Defoe passed on to Russian-born Roman Pavlyuchenko whose low drive beat Chelsea’s keeper 15 minutes into the game.
Sebastien Bassong, the other Indomitable Lion, was strong at central defence where his partnership with England’s Michael Dawson held Nicolas Anelka in-check for most of the first half.
He also showed physical strength, winning headers against Didier Drogba who came on as a second half substitute. The Ivorian,though, out-muscled Dawson to score a goal that should have been stopped by Spur’s keeper, Heurelho Gomes, at the 70th minute of play.
Bassong maintained concentration and power which kept Drogba from beating him to the ball in one-on-one duels. The Ivorian had to resort to tugging the Cameroonian’s shirt to have his way but was caught by the referees.
Good for Cameroon
Cameroon’s national team coach Javier Clemente should be pleased by such a performance from two of his first-choice defenders as he sets his sight to challenge Senegal next March in Dakar.
However, with football’s ups and downs the story might be different by then. For instance, Bassong has William Gallas, Younes Kaboul and Ledley King (who are currently injured) to compete with for a starting spot in Tottenham’s central defence. Would he still be keeping his place and match fitness by March?
Clemente would naturally hope that the central defender stays in the picture and should be expecting the same from two other Cameroonians – Somen Tchoyi and George Elokobi – who were impressive this weekend.
Elokobi played the full 90 minutes at left-back for Wolverhampton in their 1-0 defeat of Birmingham City. The big man, who was called-up for the first time to the Indomitable Lions den in November, displayed passion, grit and power as he defended on Sunday afternoon.
Tchoyi, who missed out on the World Cup, has been having a brilliant season since he moved from Austrian club Salzburg to West Bromwich Albion. He has already scored 4 league goals and was recalled to the Lions’ den in November.
He should have scored again on Saturday when his team clashed with Aston Villa but his thunder-bolt shot ricocheted on the cross-bar after he had seamlessly dribbled from the right flank. Aston Villa beat them 2-1.
Matchday 17 in the premier league ends on Monday with a top of the table clash between Manchester United and Arsenal which features Alexandre Song Billong from Cameroon.
Song has not been called to defend his country’s colours since the World Cup in South Africa. Interestingly he has also stopped wearing arm-bands bearing the colours of Cameroon’s flag which the likes of George Elokobi continue to do…