The athletic Cameroon forward Somen à Tchoyi scored a goal and dished out a neat assist for his Austrian clubside Red Bulls Salzburg this weekend.

At the 60th minute of their game against  Karnten in the Austrian Bundesliga, Tchoyi sprinted with the ball into the opposition penalty area before slotting it to his team-mate Pokrivac for the curtain raiser. Ten mminutes later the Cameroonian raised excitment in the stands with delicate one-two moves with his attack-line partner Janko before a sweet finish to beat the goalkeeper. It is his 6th goal in the league this season as his club leads the way on the tables with 20 points after 9 games.

With such solid performances at the tip of an attack line there is speculation that Somen à Tchoyi could  replace Webo as the “towering” centre-forward around which Samuel Eto’o pivots in the Indomitable Lions.

Somen Tchoyi in his Lions debut against Cape Verde

Somen Tchoyi in his Lions debut against Cape Verde

How would that function tactically?

Paul Le Guen’s preferred formation is a 4-3-3 in which the first choice attacking trio is made up of: Somen (left), Webo (Centre), Eto’o (right). They are all expected to swap positions during an encounter with Eto’o having the most allowance to roam while Webo stays the longest as the furthest man up front.

Otherwise, the Lions play a 4-4-2 diamond formation in which Webo is the big strong attacker who weighs on the defenders while Eto’o roams around and takes space and position. Just behind them is Achille Emana in a sort of traditional number 10 role.

Essentially, Somen could fit in both systems. He is huge, plays well with the head, can score, plays in his club as the second attacker (in a 4-4-2) and is techinically astute. He has the movement to play either in the centre, at the right or the left of a 3-man attackline thus giving the punch that Paul Le Guen seeks.

In addition, if Somen plays in the centre, of the 3-man attack, it allows Eto’o to play from the left which is his preferred zone.

Keen watchers of the game spotted that in the first half of the Libreville match against Gabon, Eto’o who was supposed to be on the right of the attack often swayed to the left which exposed  Geremi in the right full back  position. When the coach rectified the matter in the second half  Eto’o scored the fantastic second goal for the Lions.

Should Webo be dropped the attacking trio would be Eto’o (left), Somen (centre), Alo’o (right); or the attacking duet will be Eto’o and Somen with Emana behind them as number 10. A good look at the friendly against Austria would confirm this theory.

Other options with Somen

Somen started as a relay midfielder (n°8) while he was playing for Union Douala in Cameroon. This means he can either play in the positions currently held by Makoun (left) and Emana (right/playmaker) within the current 4-3-3 set-up of the Indomitable Lions. He may not be full of trickery as Emana, but he certainly has the same power, skill and vision.

Otto Pfister  used him on the flanks of his usual 4-4-2 (and 4-2-3-1 used in Togo) because of his drive and power. But as I had mentioned here before, he still lacks that clinical cut-back which makes wingers special. This  is simply because he generally plays at the centre of midfield or attack. Playing on the flanks also reduces his goal threat.

Webo’s Strengths

However,  Achille Webo is among the most instinctive goal poachers this country has seen in years. He doesn’t make goals, he is often at the right place to finish-off a move.

Physically he gives 100%  for 90 minutes holding back defenders so that the more creative members of the squad can shine. It is an unselfish and ungrateful role that most spectators do not notice but which should be taken to account.

A few years ago when Patrick Mboma retired from international football, I asked former Cameroon head coach Winfried Schaffer why he did not pair Eto’o and Joseph Desire Job; instead he preferred guys like Tum and Webo (who it must be said had his first cap under the German).

“Tum, big, strong, heads well…very good player… like Mboma,” he mumbled in English. “Job and Eto’o are the same…They go around the big man,” he added. I wasn’t really convinced then. Later I understood the blonde with the mane. He needed a target man because both Eto’o and Job were technically gifted but were not the type to bear physically upon the opposing defences. It was either Job or Eto’o patnering Mboma and hardly the two together.With the emergence of Webo, Cameroon had found that target man to replace Mboma albeit without the finesse, shot and precision of the latter.

Emile Heskey of England is also like that. He has the worst goal scoring record for any attacker but does the job for  Fabio Cappello’s.  He handles all the brutish tasks that enable the Rooneys and Lampards of the world to score.

Weekend performances

While Paul Le Guen is left with the head ache of making the final choice based on his game dynamics, tactics and amination based on the strengths and compatibilities of his selected players, here are tit-bits from European leagues this week.

  • Ngom Kome dribbled Real Madrid defenders and passed intricate one-twos for 80 minutes but Tenerfie was well beaten by Real Madrid (3-0)
  • Espanyol Barcelona drew 0-0 with Idriss Kameni as keeper while Frank Songo’o only came in as a late substitute (84th minute) for Zaragosa’s 3-0 victory over Getafe.
  • Real Mallorca also won 3-0 but Webo sat through the whole game on the bench
  • Jean Makoun played the full 90 minutes when lyon beat Toulouse 2-1 in the French league 1; Nkoulou Ndoubena came in as a substitute for Gudjohnson in midfield but his club Monaco lost 1-2 at St. Etienne; Alo’o Efoulou also came on from the bench when his club Nancy beat Sochaux 2-1.
  • In England, Sébastien Bassong returned to the pitch this weekend after his head injury last Sunday. His and Assou Ekotto’s Tottenham tore apart Bikey’s Burnley 5-0. Bikey even caused a penalty.
  • George Elokobi was also on the losing end of a goal feast. Sunderland thrashed his Wolverhampton side 5-2; Alex Song  and Arsenal fought hard to beat Fulham away (1-0).