Cameroon’s Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Sébastien Bassong Sunday scored the two goals that helped Tottenham Hotspur beat Liverpool FC 2-1 in the last game of the opening day of play in the English premier league.
Both men scored in the presence of the Indomitable Lions manager, Paul Le Guen, who was at White Hart Lane as a pundit for the French television channel Canal+.
Generally a very controlled person, Le Guen’s pride could be felt in his voice as he responded to the screams by the french commentator who reminded his viewers at every occasion that the two players were Cameroon internationals and Le Guen’s is their manager.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto, described by the Guardian online as “one of those players who doesn’t particularly like football; he just happens to be very good at it, good enough to make a career out of the game,”drew first blood at the 43rd minute of the game. He took a deadly left footed strike that curled into the net, after his team-mate hit a free-kick on Liverpool’s defensive wall. It was his first goal in three seasons of English premier league football.
Bassong, who played for the Lions for the first time in the friendly against Austria on 12 August, leapt higher than all Liverpool defenders to head-home a winning goal from a corner kick in his debut game for Tottenham Hotspurs.
Both players, were born in France and have only recently been cleared (Bassong) or opted (Assou-Ekotto) to play for Cameroon.
Assou-Ekotto played his first game for Cameroon as left back in a friendly against Guinea and played his first competitive game against Togo in March 2009. He was sidelined by the interim coaching staff of the Lions that preferred to use Wome in the game against Morocco and the friendly against the Ivory Coast.
This seems to have angered the Spurs man to the point that he failed to turn up for the recent friendly.
But, it looks like his return to the national team will happen sooner than later. He told Canal+ reporters after the game that, his performance was indeed good for Spurs and the Indomitable Lions.
The fact that Le Guen was in London for that game is another indicator. The new Indomitable Lions coach had promised to convince the young man to defend national colours. when pressed by the football site Camfoot.com, Le Guen had decided to keep the reasons for the players absence private.
In Assou-Ekotto’s absence… Sébastien Bassong, who is naturally a central defender, played at left-back against Austria. However, having Assou-Ekotto and Bassong playing at their natural positions is surely what Le Guen prefers.
How did other Indomitable Lions fare
Alexandre Song Billong also impressed on the opening day of the English premier league. He hardly made a wrong pass and kept guard in-front of the back four as Arsenal trounced Everton 6-1.
Geremi Njitap came in as a substitute at the 78th minute for Newcastle United in their 3-0 whipping of Stephane Bikey’s Reading, in the second tier of English football. Bikey did not appear in the game. He is still suspended after he picked up a red-card at the end of last season.
In France, Paul Alo’o Effoulou scored twice in As Nancy’s 4-0 mauling of AS Monaco on the second day of play of the French Ligue 1. Alo’o, who was voted best player of the French second division last year, was playing his first game in the elite league. He started in Cameroon’s game against Morocco but pulled out of the camp in Austria due to injury. He was replaced by Meyong Ze.
Nineteen year old Nicolas Nkoulou featured for AS Monaco in that debacle. Nkoulou has been steady in central defence for the Lions since June, partnering with Rigobert Song and Stephane Bikey. It is suspected that Paul le Guen would finally opt for a Nkoulou-Bassong centre-back in the long-run.
Stephane Mbia could not make his expected debut for Marseille this weekend due to a flu attack. His team however defeated Chedjou’s Lille by 1-0 on Sunday. The young Cameroonian who played in central defence against Austria, came in as a substitute at left-back and missed equalising for his team at the last minute of additional play time.
Meanwhile, Atouba Timothée was not as lucky as Bassong in his debut for a new club. The Cameroon left back played the entire game for his new club Ajax Amsterdam that was defeated 4-3 by rivals PSV Eindoven in the Dutch premier league.
Enoh Eyong, who seemed to have impressed coach Paul Le Guen, featured as usual for Ajax. The former Mount Cameroon FC player picked up a yellow card at the 85th minute of play.
In Italy, Samuel Eto’o started in Inter Milan’s last friendly ahead of the new season. The reigning Italian champions beat a Bahrain selection by 1-0. The goal was scored by Mancini.