Cameroon’s new coaching staff face a tough start to their tenure after nine players they had short-listed for a series of international friendly matches in North Africa withdrew from the squad due to injuries.
With six defenders (3 centre-backs and 3 left fullbacks) unavailable for selection the head coach Denis Lavagne has to stitch up an all new defence line for Friday’s duel with Sudan.
Lavagne would have to play midfielders as defenders. He is lucky to have Joel Matip, Alex Song and Georges Mandjeck who have played in their European clubs at centre-back this season (or even before) whereas they are nominally holding midfielders.
It is likely that one of the right fullbacks (Allan Nyom) would have to slot into the left-back role in the match against Sudan. Two Cameroon based left fullbacks – Abouna Ndzana and Oyongo Bitolo – have been summoned to join the squad and they are expected to be available for selection in the next game.
Whatever the case, coordination would be a challenge, particularly in the defence, as the players have no prior knowledge of each other’s movements.
It is clear that the defence will be very young and inexperienced with all the probable starters having a grand total of less than 20 international caps between them. But what about the midfield and attack? Would Lavagne and his team go for more youthfulness?
For instance, would he dare to keep Samuel Eto’o on the bench and start with an attack line including the likes of Jacques Zoua, Bienvenu Ntsama and Vincent Aboubakar who used to play under his stewardship at Cotonsport Garoua in Cameroon?
Lavagne had surely based his tactical options on the skills of certain players who are absent. It would be interesting to see how the Frenchman opts to play.
In the final days of Javier Clemente’s reign as Cameroon manager, the team seemed to be toying with a 3-man midfield and 4-3-3 formation. But the Spaniard often reverted to a 4-2-3-1. Would Lavagne stick to these formations?
I know that Lavagne’s assistant, Ndtoungou Mpile, favours the 4-4-2, usually with two holding midfielders and two wide men. When he needed to win a game at all cost, the former Junior Lions manager would field a diamond midfield (1 holding midfielder,2 shuttlers instead of wingers and 1 playmaker behind the front 2) . Will Lavagne use these ideas?
Possible team: Ndy Assembe; Benoit Angbwa-Joel Matip, Georges Mandjeck – Allan Nyom; Landry N’Geumo, Enow Eyong, Alex Song; Samuel Eto’o, Choupo Moting, Jacques Zoua.