Tag Archive: indomitable lions


Samuel Eto’o has announced that he is retiring from international football barely a few days after he was left out of a new look Cameroon squad and replaced as captain ahead of two Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in September.

“I wish to inform you that I hereby put an end to my international career. On this occasion, I wish to thank all Africans in particular and all my fans to around for their love and support,” a statement on the player’s Official Facebook page said on Thursday.

Eto’o who  joined English Premiership side Everton on a free transfer this week made his debut for Cameroon in an international friendly against Costa Rica in 1997. He was the youngest player to feature the World Cup in France in 1998. His big break on the international scene, however, came in the 2000 Africa Nations Cup when he starred alongside Patrick Mboma in the forward line of Cameroon’s title winning

Samuel Eto'o at a press conference in Dakar

Samuel Eto’o has said his final goodbye to the Indomitable Lions?

team.

He was part of the team that won an Olympic Gold Medal in Sydney in 2000 and went on to win a second Africa Cup in a row (Cameroon’s fourth) in 2002.

While he remains Cameroon’s all time best scorer at national team level, he continually faced criticism that despite his individual success (he is a four times African Player of the Year) and the trophies he won at club level in Europe (he won several Spanish league titles with FC Barcelona, two European Champions League trophies with the Catalan giants before adding a third with the Italian side Inter Milan) Cameroon stagnated at international level.

Troublesome Genius

He was often accused of fomenting trouble in the Cameroon dressing room, clashing with his team-mates, coaches and the country’s football authorities. Some suggested that he was the main protagonist in the row over World Cup participation premiums which led to Cameroon players refusing to board a flight to the World Cup in Brazil.

Although the Cameroon coach Volker Finke attributed his decision to leave Eto’o out of the squad to rejuvenation of the squad and also because the player had no club (at the time the squad was named), several Insiders felt the striker was paying the price for his role in that pre-World Cup farce and the disastrous campaign that followed.

Eto’o had in the past been suspended from the team for leading a player strike in 2012 when the Lions refused to play a friendly against Algeria over a row related to participation premiums.

Notwithstanding his rumored negative spots, Eto’o remained a real talisman for the Cameroon team and possibly the country’s most talented player at the moment. He will be missed by Cameroon, not for the goals he scored but more for his playmaking ability which were more apparent when he played for the national side.

In fact, he was rarely used as a central striker by most coaches from 2004, often deployed to the left or right of a three-man attack or as a playmaker behind the main striker.

It is the second time that Eto’o looks set to abandon the national colors. The difference this time though is that he made a formal announcement which wasn’t the case in late 2013 when it was rumored that he quit the selection.

He will be replaced as national team captain by Stephane Mbia who was appointed by the Cameroon minister for sport on Monday. Eric Choupo-Moting and Vincent Aboubakar were named vice-captains.

Meanwhile, veteran Cameroon midfielder Jean Makoun has also announced his retirement from international football. He had also been left out of the squad as Cameroon tries to rebuild after two humiliating World Cup participations in 2010 and 2014 and failing to qualify for the last two Africa. Cup of Nations tournaments.

The Indomitable Lions. Photo credit: Olivier N'Seke

The Indomitable Lions. Photo credit: Olivier N’Seke

It’s time for the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon to talk on the pitch. In a few hours they will be facing the El Tri of Mexico. What should fans expect from the current pack of Lions?

Tactics: 4-5-1 or 4-3-3
Head coach Volker Finke has mainly used a 4-3-3 formation since he took over. However, there have been games where the Lions played more as a 4-2-3-1 with a double-pivot in central midfield and, in at least one instance their shape was close to a 4-4-2 diamond.

I expect the Lions to show up as a tight unit in a 4-3-3 when attacking and 4-5-1 once they lose possession of the ball. The latter would be the default posture taken by the team which will be very defensive in outlook.

The central midfield trio will look to charge down on the Mexicans, with a lot of energy to disrupt their movement. When in 4-3-3 mode the forwards will bear down on Mexico’s central defensive trio.

When the ball is lost the wide forwards will drop into midfield to block the flanks and serve as the first line of defense. They will not hesitate to drop very deep if necessary and break with speed once the Mexican attack is contained.

Cameroon played a high defensive line in all of its pre-World Cup warm-up matches. The idea is to keep the opposing attackers closer to the midfield than in the Lions’ danger area. The disadvantage though, is that if the defenders are not tactically disciplined or one member loses concentration, the impact can be devastating. How they manage to switch-on  immediately the game starts in each half; and their  This, concentration at the end of the halves, are points to watch. These have been the team’s weaknesses in the recent past.

As much as Cameroon will depend on counter-attacks, Mexico must also be wary of the Lions’ passing game forged by coach Finke. It is an interesting blend reminiscent of the 1990 generation that reached the quarter-finals. The player profiles and tactics are similar and they may stun Mexico as they did Diego Maradona’s Argentina.

Back to 1990

In 1990, Cameroon often started in a 4-5-1 formation. Emmanuel Kunde sat in front of the back 4. He intercepted attacks but also had the vision to make forward passes. In the current team, that role has been handed to Alex Song, who not only wears the number six jersey like Kunde but also has the ability to play in central defence and in midfield. Should Song be unable to start, Joel Matip would step into the Kunde shoes.

Two other players supported gave the midfield steel and penetration in 1990: Emile Mbouh and Andre Kana Biyick. The former was the grafter – who would stop at nothing to get the ball, with an ability to play an energetic game for 90 -minutes. That role in the current squad is held by Eyong Enoh Takang.  He is the one player who has started and completed every game since Volker Finke took over in May 2013. His is an ungrateful task of fixing the errors of his teammates without looking like the hero. Cameroon’s success depends on him being on song.

The Kana Biyick role will surely be handed to Stephane Mbia. Kana Biyick could play almost anywhere. He was a good centre-back but hated to play in that position. He could play as a box-to-box midfielder in a double pivot but could also feature as a support striker when called upon to do so. Since he got into Cameroon’s senior squad, Stephane Mbia has played as right-back, centre-back, holding midfielder, relay midfielder and support striker.

Down the flanks in 1990, Cameroon had two of its greatest artistes: Louis Paul Mfede (on the left) and Cyrille Makanaky (on the right). Both could also play as traditional number 10s or support striker if given the opportunity.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting will be the current team’s Mfede. A great dribbler who can pass well and score goals. He will keep opposing full-backs in their camp. Cameroon’s success against Mexico and Croatia will depend on his form.

Benjamin Moukandjo has dreadlocks like Makanaky and he also has the pace and tenacity of the 1990 hero. As observed against Germany, Moukandjo can defend and storm forward like a speed train. He also misses a lot of goals like Makanaky – who rarely scored for Cameroon.

Cameroon in 1990 started games with a single out and out forward: Omam Biyick. He scored only one goal in that competition but it was an unforgetable goal (against Argentina). Omam, like Samuel Eto’o today, knew how to create openings for other forwards. Many often judged him in relation to the goals he scored (like they do with Eto’o) but it was his creativity that was one of his biggest assets.

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!

It was supposed to be a day of celebration. June 8, exactly 24 years to the day when Cameroon scored a memorable victory against Argentina the then holders of the World Cup. Phone companies and local sports officials had planned to ‘triumphantly’ lead the new pride of  Indomitable Lions to the plane that was to take them to  the World Cup in Brazil. Well, the squad didn’t turn up. They refused to fly to Brazil until a row over match bonuses was resolved. They only left the country around 5:45  in the morning of 9 June.

Haven’t we heard this before?  Cameroon sports officials and players not in agreement over bonuses before or during a FIFA World Cup.  Even that famous victory over Argentina in Italia 1990 (which sparked a historic run to the quarter-finals) was obtained amid disputes over match bonuses between the players and authorities from Cameroon’s sports ministry and the football federation.

“[Bonuses were] discussed until the eve of the opening match (against Argentina),” said Bertin Ebwelle, Cameroon’s left-back at the tournament in Italy. “I can assure you that the discussions were rough and it wasn’t until 5 a.m. that the last player received his bonus,” he told Camfoot.com recently.

Four years later, the players spent sleepless nights arguing over bonuses and the Lions crashed out of the competition after suffering heavy defeats in the hands of Brazil (3-0) and Russia (6-1).

Yet, Cameroon did not learn.

In 2002, possibly the best Indomitable Lions squad since 1990 refused to board the flight that was supposed to take them to Japan for the World Cup except a row over bonuses was resolved. They ended up staying for days at an airport hotel and arrived behind schedule. The Indomitable Lions, then African Champions, were bundled out of the World Cup after a 1-1 draw with Ireland, a 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia and a 2-0 defeat to Germany.

Fast-forward to 2014. Cameroon had just started their pre-World Cup training camp in Austria when media reports suggested the players were locked in a row with the country’s football authorities over bonuses. Both sides sought to downplay the seriousness of the issue until it boiled over on Sunday.

After the ‘industrial action’ by the players the federation announced in a statement that the issue had been settled, claiming that they had to draw from private loans to get the money to the players. Really?!

This team qualified for the World Cup in November 2013. Both the authorities and the players know the history surrounding bonuses.  What were they doing in the past 6 months? Why must every participation at the World Cup turn into a farce over something that could be agreed months earlier?

Officials blame the players for asking too much and insisting on being paid before delivering a service. They think the players are going to ‘unpatriotic’ lengths (i.e. refusing to play matches or fail to board a flight) to negotiate their demands. There are conspiracy theories in the media that these demands are linked to internal politicking with some players trying to bring down the federation.

Some in the media have questioned why a team that has not won any major tournament in the last decade should be making such high claims for match bonuses. Others have asked if the players will refund the money taken in advance, if they crash out of the tournament. Many wonder why the government should be paying footballers close to FCFA 50 million each  in a country where  swathes of the population go without clean drinking water or electricity?

Whatever the case, this bonus saga is a complete disgrace for the players, the officials and the country.

“This issue has to be resolved once and for all,” Ebwelle said. That way, players know from the qualifiers what they are going to earn at the World Cup… that way a player can decide whether he wants to go to the World Cup or not. If he decides to go, then he accepts what the nation offers him,” he added.

According to Jules Denis Onana, another 1990 World Cup veteran, negotiations over match bonuses in Cameroon are always tense due to the mistrust between the two involved parties, especially as the players increasingly feel officials use funds that accrue from tournaments to line their pockets instead of investing the money into the development of football in the country.

“Negotiations will always be difficult where there is no trust,” Onana wrote in an open piece published on Cameroon-footbuzz.com. “All that is needed to ensure that footballers and officials can negotiate in a peaceful climate, is a little more transparency around the source, allocation, and use of funds,” the former centre-back, now turned player agent, said.

Will Cameroon learn?

 

After Cameroon’s 2-2 draw with Germany in a friendly, Volker Finke, the head coach of the Indomitable Lions, has named the 23 players to defend the country’s colours at the soccer World Cup that kicks-off in Brazil next week.

All of the Cameroon players who started in the final qualifying game against Tunisia have made it into the final 23-man squad for Brazil 2014. Pic Credit: Olivier Nseke

All of the Cameroon players who started in the final qualifying game against Tunisia have made it into the final 23-man squad for Brazil 2014. Pic Credit: Olivier Nseke

Two players – Cedric Djeugoue and Loic Feudjou – who play in the  Cameroon’s  top league are included in the squad. Two other youngsters: Swiss-based Fabrice Olinga and and France-based Edgar Salli make it to Brazil.

Goalkeeper Ndy Assembe, defenders Jean-Armel Kana Biyick and Gaetan Bong; as well as midfielder Raoul Loe and attacker Mohammadou Idrissou were left out by the German trainer.

If fans generally expected that Idrissou and Loe would not be part of the final squad to fly to Brazil, it wasn’t so clear for the three others. Assembe, who was at the last World Cup, appeared to be the second choice keeper behind Charles Itandje but the coach preferred Loic Feudjou and Samy Ndjock as back-up goalies.

Guy-Armel Kana Biyick, the son of Andre Kana Biyick who played for Cameroon in the 1990 World Cup, seems to have lost his place due to a niggling injury that he carried throughout the training camp in Austria. Although it must also be said that the France-based player had lost his spot as Nicolas N’Koulou’s partner in the centre of defence since Finke took over in May 2013. The German often paired N’koulou and Aurelien Chedjou; and N’Koulou and Joel Matip in the last two games.

There were 3 candidates (Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Henri Bedimo and Gaetan Bong) for just 2 spots as left-back. Bong, who was at the World Cup in 2010, lost out to the man whose place he took four years ago. At the time, coach Paul Leguen surprisingly left out Bedimo who had been part of the qualifiers and played the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola. Bedimo has had a great season at Lyon in France while Assou-Ekotto is quite an experienced hand in that position.

Here’s the full List:

Goalkeepers

Charles Itandje (Konyaspor/TUR)
Sammy Ndjock (Fetihespor/TUR)
Loïc Feudjou (Coton Sport/CMR)

Defenders

Allan Nyom (Grenada/Spain)
Dany Nounkeu (Besiktas/TUR)
Cédric Djeugoue (Coton Sport/ CMR)
Aurélien Chedjou (Galatasaray/TUR)
Nicolas Nkoulou (Marseille/FRA)
Henri Bedimo (Lyon/FRA)
Benoît Assou-Ekotto (QPR/England)

Midfielders

Eyong Enoh (Antalyaspor/TUR)
Jean II Makoun (Rennes/FRA)
Joel Matip (Schalke/Germany)
Stéphane Mbia (Sevilla/Spain)
Landry Nguémo (Bordeaux/FRA)
Alex Song (FC Barcelona/Spain)
Edgar Salli (Lens/FRA)

Forwards

Samuel Eto’o (Chelsea/England)
Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting (Mainz/Germany)
Benjamin Moukandjo (Nancy/FRA)
Vincent Aboubakar (Lorient/FRA)
Achille Webo (Fenerbahçe/TUR)
Fabrice Olinga (Zulte-Waregem/BEL)

 Stephane Mbia (R) is a Europa League Champion. Is that enough to push  Cameroon's manager Volker Finke to play him in the  central midfield role he craves?

Stephane Mbia (R) is a Europa League Champion. Is that enough to push Cameroon’s manager Volker Finke to play him in the central midfield role he craves?

Cameroon’s Stephane Mbia scored in the penalty shoot-out that crowned his Spanish club Sevilla as this year’s winners of the Europa League.

Sevilla defeated Portuguese side Benfica on penalties 4-2 after both teams had finished 120-minutes of football tied at 0-0.

Mbia, the Cameroon international, who had scored the goal that enabled Sevilla to make it to the final, took a his penalty-shot masterfully.

This final caps a fine end to the season for the midfielder who had injury concerns after joining the Spanish club from English side Queen’s Park Rangers.

His performances have drawn plaudits from several Cameroonian soccer pundits who have called on the country’s coach to play Mbia ahead of Alex Song as Cameroon’s holding midfielder.

Mbia is in Cameroon’s provisional squad for the World Cup. He can play at right-back and in central defence but he feels his best position is central midfield. Will the Indomitable Lion’s coach,Volker Finke, play him there?

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.

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