If Cameroon were to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations to hold in Morocco next year, Clinton Mua Njie who scored the curtain raiser for Cameroon against the Democratic Republic of Congo will feature as the man who set the ball rolling for the ‘new look’ Indomitable Lions.
The 21-year-old sprinted from the right flank during extra play time in the first-half, collected a through ball from Vincent Abubakar and fired past Congolese keeper Idiaba to mark his first international cap in style.
The Olympique Lyon forward was one of four youngsters who were handed their international debut by head coach Volker Finke as the German seeks to rebuild a new Cameroon national team.
Oyongo Bitolo at left-back, Jerome Guihota at right-back and goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoua were the other debutants. All of them showed promise and determination but it was Njie who quickly caught the eye. Playing on the wide forward/midfield positions he combined beautifully with Eric Choupo-Moting and Vincent Abubakar. However, he scuffed two beautiful chances that came his way in the first-half before finishing superbly to give Cameroon a deserved lead.
Cameroon didn’t need to show much to be on top of the game though. The Congolese were not a the races despite playing at home on the synthetic turf with confusing lines at the TP Mazembe Stadium in Lumumbashi. They hardly combined well and barely tested the Cameroon’s teenage goalkeeper Ondoua who is still an academy boy at FC Barcelona in Spain.
The Indomitable Lions weren’t brilliant too. Benjamin Moukandjo and Vincent Abubakar kept on with their usual habit of dribbling well but finishing poorly. The new skipper Stephane Mbia, who partnered former vice-captain Nicolas Nkoulou in central defense, picked up an early yellow card for a rash challenge. Enoh Eyong and Georges Mandjeck took a while to wrest control of the midfield. But once Cameroon settled they never really let off again.
The Congolese stepped into the second half with a determination to equalize but they squandered chances or were denied further progress from the reinvigorated Nkoulou and impressive goalkeeping from Ondoua.
Cameroon countered with speed and Eric Choupo-Moting delivered a good performance as a playmaker. He distributed the ball well, changed the tempo when it was required and surged forward to create attacking moves.
He was key to Finke’s fluid 4-2-3-1 formation which often morphed into a 4-2-1-3 when Choupo-Moting dropped into a more traditional number 10 role.
This was exemplified in the move that led to the second goal. It started with Choupo-Moting in midfield, a quick exchange with substitute Leonard Kweukeu who served Abubakar on the right side of the 18 yard area. The new FC Porto man dropped a shoulder, switched to his left foot, took aim and beat the Congolese goalkeeper at the 82nd minute.
The rest of the game was very much like a stroll for the Lions who looked Indomitable this time around. Does this mean Cameroon is back? Not quite. The DRC Leopards were just poor. Some of the mistakes from Cameroon’s full backs or the centre midfielders would be punished by a better side. However, this victory should not be scoffed at. It is a first step. How the Lions fare against the Ivory Coast on Wednesday in Yaounde will be something to watch.
Score: DRC 0 -2 Cameroon