Tag Archive: cameroon


As expected Cameroon went into their game with Mexico looking like a 4-3-3 on paper and setting up in a 4-5-1 formation on the pitch.

Cameroon defending a free-kick versus Mexico. Did their game plan show too much respect for Mexico?

Cameroon defending a free-kick versus Mexico. Did their game plan show too much respect for Mexico?

The starting eleven: Charles Itanje (GK); Cedric Djeugoue – Nicolas N’Koulou – Aurelien Chedjou – Benoit AssouEkotto; Stephane Mbia – Alex Song – Enoh Eyong; Benjamin Moukandjo -Samuel Eto’o – Eric ChoupoMoting.

Their plan involved playing with a high defensive line (catch the Mexicans on offside), allow them keep the ball but pressure and block the spaces. It kind of paid off as it conned the match officials twice (they disallowed to valid goals on the grounds of offside).

As expected the wide forwards/midfielders dropped very deep to keep up with the Mexican wing-backs to prevent them from overwhelming the Cameroon fullbacks. The challenge here is that they were always so deep that they looked like fullbacks. At which point Mexico’s 3-5-2 formation choked Cameroon.

With everyone hemmed in with the Cameroon half, only Samuel Eto’o was left in the forward line where he was scrutinized by the three centre backs at all times. It was therefore hard to break swiftly and when this happened there was no support for the lone striker.

In the second half the Mexicans increased interplay centrally and hit penetrative balls and runs through the centre and in behind Cameroon’s slow centrebacks. That’s how they scored their lone and game winning goal (1-0).

When Cameroon went a goal behind their manager Volker Finke had to make a decision to either:

1. Maintain shape and continue to contain the Mexicans
2. Change tactics and animation ie bring in a more direct forward and ask the team to wrest possession from the Mexicans in the way the Lions did when they went behind to Germany.

He chose option 1. This meant the team did not move into third gear until late in the game when Webo was fielded and Cameroon switched to 4-4-2. It was a little late in my opinion.  There was no punch, little movement while the build up was slow.

With The lions absolutely requiring a positive result versus Croatia to keep their hopes alive, will Finke take a more open option?

Each time the Indomitable Lions qualify for a tournament, Cameroonian singers and musicians get to work composing songs to the glory of the team.

The FIFA World Cup 2014 has inspired many of these artistes. Using multiple genres including Cameroonian Makossa and Bikutsi through to jazz-fusion, they sing: ‘Allez les Lions’ or ‘Go Lions’ and seem to believe that they will win. Here’s a list of six songs are released this year to celebrate the Lions:

1. Cameroun Wake Up – Co-written and performed by Conti Billong and Imke Mueller; featuring Manu Dibango: There’s a touch of Makossa as well as Jazz and funk to this tune. It is one of my favourites.

2. On Va Gagner (We’re Going to Win) by Armand Laklass : is a hot Makossa/Couper Decaller fusion. The sort of song that will get people dancing in clubs across Cameroon but also in other parts of West/Central Africa.

3. Venez Celebrer (let’s party/celebrate) by The 4 : captures the current spirit of popular music by young Cameroonians . It’s a blend of hip hop and local beats sung in French, English, Pidgin English and Camfranglais. This gives a flavour of the country’s linguistic diversity.

4. Allez Les Lions (Go Lions) by Askia featuring J Milly: also draws from what youngsters enjoy listening to.

5. In the Game by Duc Z featuring Stanley Enow : Produced by Orange mobile phone network which is one of the ‘Top Sponsors’ of the Indomitable Lions. Beyond the subtle marketing objective, it is worth listening to; especially as it features one of Cameroon’s top hip hop/rap talents of the moment: Stanley Enow.

6. Pala Pala by Bikutsi songstress Mani Bella isn’t really a football song. However soccer fans have taken to the song’s beats to produce a video to celebrate the Indomitable Lions.

There are several more songs that I couldn’t feature in this list. The question that comes to mind, though, is what happens after the competition. There are some songs to the glory of the Indomitable Lions that have stood the test of time.

One of them is Marie Arcangello’s Allez Allez Les Lions (it’s English version is Forward Forward Lions) released in 1990 ahead of the World Cup in Italy. It has basically become an anthem that is played just before National Anthem each time the Indomitable Lions play at the Yaounde stadium.

But most of the songs disappear especially after a poor showing by the team. Does anyone remember “Lions Indomptable” by Patou Bass in 2010?

Maybe these artistes should wait until the tournament is over to release a song. That way, if it is a successful campaign their song will remembered forever.

For instance, I continue to hear Pepe Kalle’s ‘Roger Milla’ played on radio stations and at parties around South Sudan. The song was an ode to the Lions by a Congolese artiste after the team reached the quarter finals of the World Cup in 1990.

That’s a plan!

Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions defeated Moldova 1-0 in Yaounde in their final pre-World Cup friendly, which also served as an opportunity for fans to bid ‘farewell’ to the squad that leaves the country on Sunday for Brazil.

Edgar Salli scored Cameroon’s goal at the 30th minute of the match following a cross from the right flank by the talented Benjamin Moukandjo.

There was little else to write home about the game in which the Cameroon players were clearly under instruction not to over commit, in order to avoid last minute injuries.

The Indomitable Lions ‘traditionally’ play an exhibition game where the 23-man squad is divided into two camps for a show, ostensibly to allow the fans say farewell and bless the team. This year officials of the football federation decided to organise an international friendly instead.

Cameroon's Starting Eleven versus Moldova in Yaounde on 7 June 2014

Cameroon’s Starting Eleven versus Moldova in Yaounde on 7 June 2014

Head coach Volker Finke rested the team captain, Samuel Eto’o, as well as Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting, the most prolific scorer since they started preparing for the World Cup last May.

However, the German trainer started Aurelien Chedjou, who had been carrying an injury thus missing Cameroon’s previous warm up matches. Chedjou was paired with Nicolas N’Koulou at the centre of defence. Henri Bedimo started at left-back while Allan Nyom got the nod as right-back. The latter missed a sitter towards the end of the game drawing scorn and catcalls from fans who were at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium.

Alex Song anchored midfield alongside Enoh Eyong and Landry N’guemo but the energy and harrying displayed in the game against Germany (in which this trio featured together in the 2nd half) was absent.

In all it was a flat performance only spiced (once in a while) by the dribbling from Moukandjo who started as part of a forward trio including Salli and Achille Webo. The

There were numerous substitutions but this didn’t change the game whose flow was seriously hampered by the poor turf that gave an awkward bounce to the ball.

Moldova camped in their half of the field for most of the contest. They stepped up in the second half and came close to an unexpected equaliser from a well taken free-kick in the final minutes of the game.

Cameroon’s Prime Minister Philemon Yang handed over a Cameroon flag to the country’s German-born coach at the end of the game. The team departs for Brazil on Sunday

The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon lost 1-2 to Paraguay in a pre-World Cup friendly on Thursday. Here are few things they may have learned from the game.

  1. Possession is Useless Without Penetration and Goals : Cameroon dominated possession in this game. The first half ended with the Lions having 65 percent of the ball. It was good to see the team work the ball from the back to the front, prioritising short passes instead of long hopeful balls to the front. For all of their possession, the Lions created  few scoring chances. The team lacked penetration. The build-up was slow, it allowed the Paraguayans to settle in a very defensive 4-4-2 which was tough to break down.  Cameroon lacked creativity to turn the possession to scoring chances. Ball possession is useless without pace, creativity, penetration and goals. Paraguay did not keep the ball for long periods but when they got it, they hit the Lions through swift counter-attacking raids.  They looked like scoring each time they got forward. The Lions must learn to translate domination into goal-scoring success.
  2. Choupo Moting seen during an Indomitable Lions' training camp i Senegal in March 2011

    Choupo Moting seen during an Indomitable Lions’ training camp i Senegal in March 2011

    Choupo-Moting Should be a Starter in Brazil: Football is a team sport but  individual talent never hides. The young Mainz forward, Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting, is clearly the most gifted player in the Cameroon squad after Samuel Eto’o. He’s got a good first touch, dribbles with elegance, has an eye for a defence splitting pass and…he can score. In the 4-3-3 formation preferred by Cameroon’s head coach – Choupo-Moting can play as a wide  forward (left or right) or as the main striker. He is even better as the withdrawn forward behind the main striker in a 4-2-3-1.  He changed the game when coach Volker Finke brought him on as a substitute.  His determination earned him a goal (he also scored in Cameroon’s 2-0 win over Macedonia). He could have scored a brace versus Paraguay – if only Mohammadou Idrissou had not decided to take (then miss) the penalty Cameroon earned in the final minutes of the match.

  3. Idrissou Shouldn’t be in this Squad: No, it’s not about the missed penalty. Really, it isn’t. Anybody can miss a penalty. It is about the whole 90 minutes in which Idrissou contrived to show the world that he shouldn’t be part of this 28-man squad. He shouldn’t be anywhere near a 23-man squad to the World Cup. I know there are qualities that coaches see in players that fans can’t perceive, but really not this time. When he was younger and could run up and down the left flank – supporting the defence and injecting pace – even I used to attempt explanations about his role in the team. That pace has left him. He hasn’t got great technique  (never did) and he absolutely does nothing as a striker when playing for Cameroon. Volker Finke has to drop him.
  4. Who Else Earned a Place in Finke’s ‘to drop list’?: If the head coach had only that game against Paraguay to make a decision on his 23-man squad, then Raoul-Cedric Loe should be packing his bags to catch the next flight home.  He looked edgy, rash, too quick to tackle and often making the wrong pass. On the positive side, though, he dropped very nicely into a centre-back position to cover Matip or Nkoulou when they surged forward. He is young and has time to learn the ropes of his defensive midfield trade. Unfortunately, there are just too many players ahead of him in the pecking order for that role.
  5. Can Salli Sneak into the 23 for Brazil?:  In the first 45-minutes of the game, Edgar Salli looked out of his depth. He had the responsibility of providing a creative spark to a rather defensive midfield formation. It didn’t quite happen in that first half and he was looking like one of those to fall into Finke’s ‘to drop list’. Things changed in the second segment of the game. The boy came alive. He dribbled and took on opponents with confidence. He looked like the player who was the star performer in Cameroon’s under-20 squad that lost in the final of the African Cup in 2011. At the end of the game against Paraguay, Finke said he liked what he had seen from Salli. Is that enough to take the boy to Brazil?

Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions, currently at a training camp in Austria, will fail to qualify for the knock-out stages of the World Cup in Brazil this year, according to statistical analysis by the New York-based bank Goldman Sachs.

Based on a regression analysis that uses the entire history of mandatory (official) international football matches—not including friendlies—since 1960, the financial institution attempted a prediction of all games in the tournament that kicks-off on 12 June 2014.

Cameroon will obtain two draws: 1-1 with Mexico and 1-1 with Croatia but will be thrashed 5-0 by Brazil in Group A of the competition, according to the model used in the fifth edition of The World Cup and EconomicsBrazil and Croatia will qualify to the knock-out phase while Cameroon and Mexico will return home.

Can goalkeeper Charles Itandje and co spring a surprise in Brazil and upset the Goldman Sachs predictions?

Can goalkeeper Charles Itandje and co spring a surprise in Brazil and upset the Goldman Sachs predictions?

The Goldman Sachs work  tips Brazil to win the trophy with Argentina and Germany next most favoured but much lower down in probability.  Brazil will be crowned World Champions for the sixth time after defeating their fierce Latin American rivals Argentina 3-1, as per the bankers’ model of the probability of success.

The World Cup and Economics was first released in 1998 ahead of the tournament hosted by France. It is a guide to the World Cup with an ‘unnatural mix of football and economics.’ For instance, the Goldman Sachs analysis makes interesting parallels between the state of Cameroon football and the country’s economy.

“The country, like its football team, has no shortage of raw talent and resources but has failed to generate a fundamental transformation while conditions were favourable,” the analysis said.

“The team will come up against the host nation in the first round and will not find it easy to get out of relatively tough Group A… Similarly, policymakers will have to address the economic weaknesses in an increasingly challenging global environment.”

In the meantime, the Indomitable Lions continue preparations ahead of the tournament with a friendly against Paraguay on 29 May in Austria. This follows a 2-0 win over Macedonia on 26 May. With the arrival of Benoit Assou-Ekotto on Wednesday, all 28 players drafted by the coach are now at their Austrian training base.

Cameroon’s head coach, Volker Finke, has named 28 players in his provisional squad for the World Cup to take place in Brazil in June, the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT) said on Monday.

Apart from the inclusion of two players – Loic Feudjou and Cédric Djeugoue – who ply their trade in Cameroon’s top league, there are few surprises in the squad, which includes 16 players who were at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Youngsters Edgar Salli and Fabrice Olinga who have been on the fringes of the squad have a chance to show their worth before the final cast of 23 is named.

There is no space for veteran goalkeeper Idriss Carlos Kameni and England based defender Sebastien Bassong.

Here’s the 28-man squad and the two players on a standby list:

GoalKeepers

1. Charles Itanje

2. Guy-Roland Ndy Assembe

3. Sammy Ndjock

4. Loic Feudjou

Defenders

5. Allan Nyom

6. Dany Nounkeu

7. Cédric Djeugoue

8. Aurelien Chedjou

9. Nicolas Nkoulou

10. Guy-Armel Kana Biyick

11. Henri Bedimo

12. Benoît Assou Ekotto

13. Gaetang Bong

Midfielders

14. Eyong Enow Tarkang

15. Jean II Makoun

16. Joel Matip

17. Stéphane Mbia

18. Landry Nguemo

19. AlexandreSong

20. Cedric Loe

21. Edgar Sally

Fowards

22. Samuel Eto’o Fils

23. Eric Maxime Choupo Moting

24. Benjamin Moukandjo

25. Vincent AboubaKar

26. Achille Webo

27. Idrissou Mohamadou

28. Fabrice Olinga

Standby List

1. Zock (Cosmos Bafia)

2. Franck Banyack

Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions have drawn the Elephants of Ivory Coast and the Leopards of the Democratic Republic of Congo in a tough looking Group D of qualifiers to the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in 2015.

ImageCameroonians have bittersweet memories of the last time they were with Ivory Coast in the same qualifying group for a tournament (qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup in Germany). The Indomitable Lions beat the Elephants at home in Yaounde (2-0) and away in Abidjan (2-3) but still failed to qualify for the World Cup after they drew 1-1 with the Pharaohs of Egypt in Yaounde on 8 October 2005 in the final group game.

Both teams met in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations in 2006. The game finished 1-1 after 120 minutes of regular and extra-time. It then went on to one of the longest penalty shoot-outs in the history of the competition, with eleven players from each side scoring their kick. When the shoot-out restarted, Ivory Coast’s talisman, Didier Drogba scored while Cameroon’s star, Samuel Eto’o, missed.

The Ivorians have since become one of Africa’s best teams (although they have unfortunately won no trophy) while Cameroon’s fortunes have gone downhill, except for their surprising run to the final of the Africa Cup in 2008 which the lost 0-1 to Egypt.

Four times winners of the Africa Cup of Nations, Cameroon failed to qualify to the continental event in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea in 2012 and in South Africa in 2013. To avoid missing out on the competition for the third time in a row, the Lions would certainly want to obtain good results against the Elephants but also defeat the Leopards of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Congo were in Cameroon’s qualifying group for this year’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The Lions defeated the Congolese 1-0 in Yaounde and drew 0-0 in Congo but struggled in both instances. The final member of Group D will come from Swaziland/Sierra Leone/Gambia/Seychelles which are still to play preliminary qualifying rounds.

Cameroon starts the qualification campaign in September. CAF is expected to know the 15 teams to join hosts Morocco by mid-November 2014. There are seven (7) qualifying groups. The first and the second-placed teams in all seven groups, and the best overall third-placed team will qualify for the AFCON 2015 in Morocco.

Here are the Groups:

Group A: Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, and one from: Namibia/Congo/Libya/Rwanda

Group B: Mali, Algeria, Ethiopia, and one from: Sao Tome, Benin, Malawi and Chad

Group C: Burkina Faso, Angola, Gabon, and one from: Liberia/Lesotho/Kenya/Comoros

Group D: Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, and one from: Swaziland/Sierra Leone/the Gambia/Seychelles

Group E: Ghana, Togo, Guinea (Conakry), and one from: Madagascar/Uganda/Mauritania/Equatorial Guinea

Group F: Zambia, Cape Verde, Niger, and one from: Tanzania/Zimbabwe/Mozambique/South Sudan

Group G: Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, and one from: Burundi/Botswana/CAR/Guinea Bissau

Eric Djemba Djemba has joined Scottish Premier League side St. Mirren until the end of the season, hoping that regular football may improve his chances for a spot in Cameroon’s World Cup squad, the club announced on its website on Wednesday.

“He is a top drawer player who does a power of work in the defensive midfield area,” said St Mirren manager Danny Lennon. “He wants regular football to ensure he goes to the World Cup with Cameroon this summer and we are happy to give him that platform,” Lennon told the club’s website.

The 32-year-old midfielder has not been part of the Indomitable Lions set up for about two years but seemingly trusts in his capacity to bounce back. He will face stiff competition for the defensive midfield role where Cameroon has more than a dozen regular (and younger) contenders including Schalke’s Joel Matip, FC Barcelona’s Alex Song, among others.

A decade ago, Djemba Djemba was one of Cameroon’s promising talents rising from Kadji Sports Academy near Douala to FC Nantes in France where he was recruited by Manchester United in 2003. He was seen at the time as a potential replacement for then United captain Roy Keane but the Cameroonian failed to live up to expectation, making only 13 league starts in 35 appearances for Manchester United.

“I was not being [selected] in many games and it was difficult,” Djemba-Djemba said in a recent interview with The Guardian newspaper. “Roy Keane came back from injury, I wanted to play games and I had a talk with the gaffer (Alex Ferguson). He said: ‘No problem. If you have [another] team and you want to continue to play, that’s not a problem.'”

He opted for a transfer to Aston Villa as he opportunities for a starting place in the team dwindled. This was followed by a downward spiral that took him to Burnley, then to Qatar SC before a resurgence at Danish side Odense.

Before joining St. Mirren the one-time captain of Cameroon’s under-23 national team was at Partizan Belgrade. The Serbian club released him after he made just14 appearances since he joined last summer.

Djemba Djemba’s bid to convince Volker Finke, Cameroon’s German born trainer, may start if he plays for St. Mirren in Sunday’s Scottish Cup match against Dundee United.

St. Mirren Football Club which is ninth (9th) in the Scottish Premier League table, is based in Paisley, Renfrewshire, and was founded in 1877.

Cameroon’s Sebastien Bassong says despite perennial off-the-field issues, the Indomitable Lions hope to perform well, especially with Samuel Eto’o in the mix, at the soccer World Cup that kicks-off next June in Brazil.

The centre-back who captains Norwich in the English Premier League told a British TV network that his national team captain Eto’o, often accused of being divisive, must be part of the World Cup squad and will come good.

“He’s got to go to the World Cup. We will find a way to co-habit. Even if some people don’t like the fact that he is going to be there, we all want the same thing: Cameroon to do well,” Bassong is quoted as saying in excerpts of the TV interview published in The Guardian newspaper.

“Samuel is a huge player for us, a huge character in the country – the most famous person after the president. Our pressure compared to him is nothing. But he’s born to handle that,” the 27-year-old Bassong said.

Bassong partnered Nicolas Nkoulou in central defence for Cameroon at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa but has since fallen behind in the pecking order due to a combination of injuries and form issues. With his regular starts and strong displays for Norwich, many observers expect him to return to the Lions’ den to fight for place in the World Cup squad.

That would be another opportunity to team up with his friend and colleague Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Both men played for Tottenham Hotspur (and the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon) before the quest for regular football led Bassong to Norwich while Assou-Ekotto is on loan at Queen’s Park Rangers in the English second tier league.

Sebastien Bassong (R) and his pal Benoit Assou-Ekotto (L) while on national team duty with Cameroon

Sebastien Bassong (R) and his pal Benoit Assou-Ekotto (L) while on national team duty with Cameroon

Bassong shares hilarious anecdotes about Assou-Ekotto who is famous for saying publicly that he is playing football because it’s a money-making job.

“For him, it’s a job. I played with Benni at Spurs and in the national team. He used to not even know who we were playing against. Sometimes he would say about opponents or team-mates in the national team when the squad was changing, ‘Bass, who’s that?’, ” Bassong said.

“The best one I remember about Benni was when we were having the team photo at Tottenham and he arrived late….Rafael van der Vaart had just signed and I was next to him. So Benni was shaking hands and when he got to Rafa, he shook his hand, stood still and looked at him. And then he asked me in French: ‘Who’s that?’ I said: ‘It’s Van der Vaart.’

“Benni said: ‘OK, nice to meet you.’ Harry [Redknapp, the Spurs manager] had to explain. He told Rafa: ‘Don’t worry, he doesn’t know who you are, he doesn’t know anything about football, but he’s a great player.'”

Assou-Ekotto’s tells it as he sees it and doesn’t fakes things as is common in football circles which surely explains why the deeply religious Bassong rates him as a friend.

“I believe in God and read the Bible everyday,” Bassong says. “There are some days when your faith goes down a little bit, for whatever reason, but it’s always there. It’s a big part of my life. Football is a different world. The way I see football … there is loads of fake. You’re not living in the real life. For me, the real life will start when I stop playing football.”


Read the full story in The Guardian  here. The excerpts are based on an interview with BT Sport which is the UK’s newest sports TV service, with three channels showing a host of sport, including live top tier action from the Barclays Premier League, with 38 exclusively live matches.

Finke Wants Cameroon to Play Collective Football

Barely five months to the World Cup in Brazil, Volker Finke, Cameroon’s head coach has been talking about what he hopes to achieve with the Indomitable Lions at the tournament. He spoke to fifa.com about instilling the importance of collective and possession football in the Indomitable Lions as they seek to improve on their dismal World Cup 2010 outing in South Africa.

Here are some excepts:

UNITY 

“The team twice failed to qualify for the African Cup of Nations and did very badly at the 2010 World Cup, finishing with zero points,” Finke told FIFA.com. “They were very divided. Within the squad we’ve spoken together a great deal in the last few months. Thanks to that we’ve arrived at a point where, together with the captain Samuel Eto’o, a very good team spirit has developed. That’s been the key to our success.”

COLLECTIVE

“If you want to win in football the team has to maintain its concentration at all times and play well collectively,” said Finke… “That’s vital and it’s what we work on every day that we’re together. Only then is it possible to get good results.”

Image

REBUILDING

“The fact that Cameroon is a country where everyone loves football and where everyone remembers that in the 70s, 80s, 90s and right up until 2002 it was one of Africa’s footballing heavyweights means that expectations rise very quickly,” said Finke. “The reality is however, that we’re reconstructing and need to build things up again. Qualifying for the World Cup was an important part of that.”

You can read the full article here

Comment

All of these statements seem to be in keeping with Finke’s philosophy which Gef’s Football Club outlined in June last year on the eve of the German’s first competitive game in-charge of the four times African Champions. Finke is all about a high pressing game, fluid tactics formations and a focus on the team and not individuals.

At the time this blog wondered if a team so used to playing deep and soaking up pressure to strike via counter-attacks would be able to morph into a Barcelona type pressing team? Well, they didn’t have to become Barcelona. He simply chose the people who were ready to follow his instructions and style regardless of whether they played regular football in their teams or fans fancied them or not. It meant a rather difficult start with defeat to Togo (though the result was overturned by FIFA), goalless draws in Congo and Tunisia, a hard-earned 1-0 victory over Libya before a well deserved 4-1 thrashing of Tunisia in Yaounde in November.

But surely even Finke realises that a lot of work remains to be done.

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