Cameroon’s head coach Volker Finke has handed senior international debuts to four youngsters in his starting team to face the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in a 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier this Saturday in Lumumbashi, according to media reports. (Read full match report here)
If news filtering in from Congo is confirmed, Joseph Fabrice Ondoua from FC Barcelona’s academy will start in goal ahead of the more experienced Ndy Assembe who was at the Africa Cup of Nations and the World Cup in 2010. There are also starting berths for Oyongo Bitolo, the former under 20 left-back who plays in the US for New York Red Bulls, as well as Jerome Guihota who plays for Valencienne in France. Forward Clinton Njie who has been rising within the ranks at Olympique Lyon in France also gets the nod as Cameroon seeks a fresh start after a woeful World Cup campaign last June.In what is likely to be 4-2-3-1 formation, the new captain Stephane Mbia is expected to partner Nicolas Nkoulou in central defence; Enoh Eyong and Georges Mandjeck, who is returning to the den after a hiatus, will feature in central midfield while Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting should play as the central attacking midfielder/support forward behind the main striker Vincent Abubakar. It is expected that Clinton Njie and Benjamin Moukandjo will play in the wide attacking/midfield positions.
More than 70 percent of the 24-man squad that traveled to Lumumbashi for the game was not present at the World Cup in Brazil where Cameroon lost all their three group games, conceding eight goals and scoring just one. Prominent among the absentees are stalwarts such as Samuel Eto’o, Achille Webo and Jean Makoun who have now retired from international football.
Cameroon’s German-born head coach Volker Finke, who survived the torrent of changes that swept through the team after the dismal World Cup campaign, is cautious. During a pre-match press conference on Friday, he warned fans to expect a difficult journey ahead as the team embarks on (yet another attempt at) reconstruction. He said:
“Its true that there are many new players and many young players. That means that we need a little bit more time…Today, I can say for such a short time, it was a good atmosphere, everybody did a good job, but it is not a guarantee for a win. But if we continue to do like this, I’m sure we will have good results. May be [Saturday]it will be difficult, but in future, we will have good results.”
With very little time to train, Finke had to go for a blend of on and off regulars with some of the new talent that he has called up. Here’s what Finke said about working with new and older players:
“I think we did the best because it’s a really good atmosphere. All training sessions were in a really good spirit, good discipline, and also, I saw that among the players, they started a good communication. And this is something we need. We need good communications between young players, older players.”
Should fans expect a change of tactics?
Finke stuck to 4-3-3 / 4-5-1 throughout the World Cup in Brazil even when it looked too defensive or demanded players to curtail their attacking instincts. My view is that the team will play as a 4-2-3-1 which allows Choupo-Moting to play in the central role behind the main striker (that is if he is not the main striker). He is good on the wings but I feel it’s a waste to shunt him out there, like an auxiliary full-back, the way he was used at the World Cup.
Probable line up?
Fabrice Ondoua (GK); Jerome Guihota (RB) – Nicolas Nkoulo (CB) – Stephane Mbia (CB) – Oyongo Bitolo (LB); Georges Mandjeck(CM) – Enoh Eyong (CM); Benjamin Moukandjo (AM) – Choupo Moting (CAM) – Clinton Njie (AM); Vincent Aboubakar (Striker)