Category: Arsenal


English pundits have been full of praise for Cameroon’s Alex Song for his commanding performance in midfield when Arsenal beat Manchester City 1-0 in a crunch English Premier League duel on Sunday.

Here is what David Pleat, a former Tottenham Hotspur manager, wrote in his column for The Guardian:

“A feature of Arsenal’s improvement has been the combination play of the three midfield men and here Alex Song, the most powerful of midfield bases, led the charge.”

Pleat added:

“When Song drives forward he invariably seeks his side’s goalscorer, Robin van Persie, curving lofted passes into his path. There was a time when he was considered purely a “Makelele type”, sitting in front of his centre-backs, cutting out danger. He began his career at Arsenal as a centre-back, where few staff members considered him first-team material. Arsène Wenger had faith and he is seeing the fruits of his outstanding judgment.”

Pleat concluded that:

“Song, one of the Premier League’s most underrated players, hit all the right notes while his team-mates have proved conclusively to City that money cannot buy you love. There is a feeling about Arsenal that translates into tenacious harmony.”

Victory takes Arsenal to third in the league, two points clear of Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s Tottenham Hotspur. If Arsenal hold on to that spot, they’d automatically qualify for the UEFA Champions League.

However, the contest between the London rivals that feature two of Cameroon’s best acts of the European season (Song and Assou-Ekotto), still has some way to go with six games left.

Read David Pleat’s full match analysis here.

Bienvenu Ntsama, the  forward who currently plays for Turkish side Fernerbahce, is set to start for Cameroon this Sunday when they clash with hosts Morocco at the 2011 LG Cup, Cameroon media correspondents say.

The striker who scored 16 goals last season for Swiss club Young Boys Bernes is quick and sharp in-front of goal. He can play as a second striker dropping deep to support play but could also function in wide attacking roles.

Ntsama is expected to be part of a front-three that includes Vincent Aboubakar, a former Cotonsport forward (now playing for Valencienne in France) and Indomitable Lions captain Samuel Eto’o.

Ntsama was first called to camp in an international friendly against Poland in 2010. He was part of the squad that played against Mauritius in September last year but was not recalled until September this year. This may be a chance for him to stake a claim for a place in the squad.

He will be replacing Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting who picked up a knock on the ankle during Cameroon’s 3-1 defeat of Sudan at the start of the LG Cup on Friday. Reports say Choupo-Moting has been released by Cameroon’s coaching staff to enable him return to his German club, Mainz, for proper treatment and rest.

Choupo-Moting’s situation only adds to the injury woes that have hit Cameroon as they seek to re-build their team through a series of friendlies in North Africa. Strikers Leonard Kweuke, Benjamin Moukandjo and Somen Tchoyi; as well as defenders Nicolas Nkoulou, Aurelien Chedjou, Gaetan Bong and Benoit Assou-Ekotto had earlier pulled-out of the squad due to injury.

Cameroon players on reserve bench, Dakar 26 March 2011

From left to right: N'Dy Assembe, Vincent Aboubakar , Georges Mandjeck, Choupo-Moting, Abouna Ndzana and Tchoyi on the reserve bench in Dakar against Senegal. A 26 March 2011 photo by GEF.

This forced head coach Denis Lavagne to field two central midfielders, Joel Matip and Georges Mandjeck, as centrebacks in the game against Sudan. While Matip came out relatively unscathe, Mandjeck had a rough time and even conceded a penalty that led to the Sudanese goal.

The Rennes midfielder is now expected to start Sunday’s game on the bench while Dany Noukeu, a regular centre-back will partner Matip at the heart of Cameroon’s defence.

Allan Nyom, the Granada FC rightback, who was a make-shift left fullback on Friday will start on the bench as Henri Bedimo (a regular leftback) has shaken off an injury  is fit to start against the Atlas Lions.

Two fullbacks from Cameroon’s national league – Abouna Ndzana and Oyongo Bitolo – have now joined the camp and may be given a run at some point. They were summoned when the coaches realised that all of Cameroon’s main left fullbacks were injured.

Goalkeeper Idriss Carlos Kameni, who got injured barely 20 minutes into the game against Sudan, has yet to recover which means Guy Roland N’Dy Assembe of French side Nancy will start against Morocco.

The coaches have shown confidence in the midfield trio of Enoh Eyong, Landry N’Geumo and Alexandre Song that started against Sudan. Hopefully, they would maintain a consistent level of passing and pressure on opponents to regain possession throughout the game. There was a dip in their performance during the second half of the encounter against Sudan.

Here’s the expected starting line-up in a 4-3-3 formation: Assembe; Angbwa (RB) – Matip (CB) – Noukeu (CB) – Bedimo (LB); N’Geumo (CM) – Enoh (CM) – Song (CM); Aboubakar (FW) – Eto’o (ST) – Ntsama (FW).

Javier Clemente: Was this his last game in-charge of Cameroon?

Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea played a 1-1 draw in an international friendly on Tuesday in Malabo. The Lions scored the curtain raiser through striker Leonard (Leonie) Kweuke before their hosts equalised. .

Cameroon coach Javier Clemente fielded a second-string team for this encounter apart from Alexandre Song who was duly withdrawn by the second-half to prevent him picking-up an injury.

Cameroon’s passing, especially in that second-half, was really woeful. Eric Djemba Djemba showed again that he doesn’t deserve to be recalled to the team, often losing possession as was the case against Mauritius and Congo (Kinshasa).

Abouna Ndzana, the young Astres Douala full-back who deputised at right-back, showed enthusiasm surging forward, but he was often caught out of position. His short-passing was unimpressive and he kept kicking the ball long to the forwards who were not the tallest in the world once Kweuke had been substituted.

The players generally looked tired and sluggish. This was not helped by the rugged play by the hosts whose tackles that gave a stop-start tempo to the game. It was unpleasing to watch.

A [particularly bad challenge against Kweuke forced the Cameroon coaches to replace him with Benjamin Moukandjo Bille just before half-time. His teammates got enraged when the referee didn’t whistle for a foul or warn the Equato-Guinean player.

The 2012 Africa Cup of Nations co-host showed determination and power which led to their equaliser. But they hardly ever got near to Jules Goda’s goal area on his 1st start for Cameroon.

Edgar Sali, who only five months ago was still playing for the U-20s, gave a good account of himself. However, his set-pieces were poorly taken whereas that is one of his strengths.

Will this be Clemente’s last game as head coach of the Indomitable Lions? The rumour mill has been grinding since Cameroon failed to beat Senegal in June.

The Spaniard however says he is there to re-build the squad and is in for the long-term with Cameroon regardless of the team’s failure to qualify for next year’s AfCon tournament.

The re-building process continues next month when Cameroon plays two international friendlies against Ivory Coast and Algeria. Will the Spaniard be in-charge then?

Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson has praised the Cameroon international Somen Tchoyi for giving the reigning English Champions a tough test in their 2-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion (WBA) on Sunday.

“The lad Tchoyi gave us a bit of trouble,” Ferguson said after the match.

The 1.90m Tchoyi, playing as a support striker, worked the United defence for long spells in the game as he tussled with central defenders Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand and imposed himself physically.

Somen on the right of this photo warms-up before a Cameroon game

He started the move that led to WBA’s equaliser by overpowering United’s young Brazilian fullback Fabio to recover lost possession at the edge of the Champions’ 18-yard. His strike partner Shane Long then finished the move with a shot that should have been stopped on another day by United’s keeper, David De Gea.

Tchoyi also impressed with his good –short and long range – passing and his willingness to take on defenders using speed and tricky dribbles.

The tactics used by Roy Hodgson, the WBA manager, allowed the Cameroonian to drop into his natural central midfield position and come from deep to occupy the space between the lone striker and the other midfielders in order to dictate play. He was also free to go wide to whip in crosses.

The former Liverpool manager praised both his attackers for putting pressure on United and regretted that they lost the game.

“I thought his (Long’s) performance in general was very good as was Tchoyi’s,” Hodgson said after the game.

It’s unfortunate that most Indomitable Lions managers have hardly thought of playing Tchoyi as an attacking central midfielder or a second striker which are (in my opinion) the positions where he is most effective. He is often used as a winger or wide attacker (in a front three).

Song Stamps Reputation

The former Union Douala player’s performance certainly paints a better picture of Cameroonian footballers than the temperamental display from Alex Song for Arsenal in their goalless draw with Newcastle United on Saturday.

Song played admirably well as a midfield sweeper in-front of Arsenal’s back-four but for some reason decided to stamp on Joey Barton after a challenge. Barton may not be most people’s best friend  (as confirmed by his role in the confrontation that led to Ivory Coast’s Gervinho being sent-off) but there was absolutely no excuse for Song to stamp on the Englishman’s leg.

The defensive midfielder who hasn’t played for Cameroon since the 2010 World Cup may be suspended if the English Football Association decides to use video evidence against him.

Meanwhile, George Elokobi came on as a late substitute for Wolverhampton Wanderers in their 2-1 away win over Blackburn Rovers.

The other Cameroonians operating in the English Premier League were absent on the first day of the new season. Sebastien Bassong and Benoit Assou-Ekotto could not play because Tottenham’s fixture against Everton was postponed following rioting in London.  Jean Makoun was left on the bench by Aston Villa in the Birmigham club’s goalless draw with Fulham.