Tag Archive: football


Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions, currently at a training camp in Austria, will fail to qualify for the knock-out stages of the World Cup in Brazil this year, according to statistical analysis by the New York-based bank Goldman Sachs.

Based on a regression analysis that uses the entire history of mandatory (official) international football matches—not including friendlies—since 1960, the financial institution attempted a prediction of all games in the tournament that kicks-off on 12 June 2014.

Cameroon will obtain two draws: 1-1 with Mexico and 1-1 with Croatia but will be thrashed 5-0 by Brazil in Group A of the competition, according to the model used in the fifth edition of The World Cup and EconomicsBrazil and Croatia will qualify to the knock-out phase while Cameroon and Mexico will return home.

Can goalkeeper Charles Itandje and co spring a surprise in Brazil and upset the Goldman Sachs predictions?

Can goalkeeper Charles Itandje and co spring a surprise in Brazil and upset the Goldman Sachs predictions?

The Goldman Sachs work  tips Brazil to win the trophy with Argentina and Germany next most favoured but much lower down in probability.  Brazil will be crowned World Champions for the sixth time after defeating their fierce Latin American rivals Argentina 3-1, as per the bankers’ model of the probability of success.

The World Cup and Economics was first released in 1998 ahead of the tournament hosted by France. It is a guide to the World Cup with an ‘unnatural mix of football and economics.’ For instance, the Goldman Sachs analysis makes interesting parallels between the state of Cameroon football and the country’s economy.

“The country, like its football team, has no shortage of raw talent and resources but has failed to generate a fundamental transformation while conditions were favourable,” the analysis said.

“The team will come up against the host nation in the first round and will not find it easy to get out of relatively tough Group A… Similarly, policymakers will have to address the economic weaknesses in an increasingly challenging global environment.”

In the meantime, the Indomitable Lions continue preparations ahead of the tournament with a friendly against Paraguay on 29 May in Austria. This follows a 2-0 win over Macedonia on 26 May. With the arrival of Benoit Assou-Ekotto on Wednesday, all 28 players drafted by the coach are now at their Austrian training base.

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Cameroon’s Sebastien Bassong says despite perennial off-the-field issues, the Indomitable Lions hope to perform well, especially with Samuel Eto’o in the mix, at the soccer World Cup that kicks-off next June in Brazil.

The centre-back who captains Norwich in the English Premier League told a British TV network that his national team captain Eto’o, often accused of being divisive, must be part of the World Cup squad and will come good.

“He’s got to go to the World Cup. We will find a way to co-habit. Even if some people don’t like the fact that he is going to be there, we all want the same thing: Cameroon to do well,” Bassong is quoted as saying in excerpts of the TV interview published in The Guardian newspaper.

“Samuel is a huge player for us, a huge character in the country – the most famous person after the president. Our pressure compared to him is nothing. But he’s born to handle that,” the 27-year-old Bassong said.

Bassong partnered Nicolas Nkoulou in central defence for Cameroon at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa but has since fallen behind in the pecking order due to a combination of injuries and form issues. With his regular starts and strong displays for Norwich, many observers expect him to return to the Lions’ den to fight for place in the World Cup squad.

That would be another opportunity to team up with his friend and colleague Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Both men played for Tottenham Hotspur (and the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon) before the quest for regular football led Bassong to Norwich while Assou-Ekotto is on loan at Queen’s Park Rangers in the English second tier league.

Sebastien Bassong (R) and his pal Benoit Assou-Ekotto (L) while on national team duty with Cameroon

Sebastien Bassong (R) and his pal Benoit Assou-Ekotto (L) while on national team duty with Cameroon

Bassong shares hilarious anecdotes about Assou-Ekotto who is famous for saying publicly that he is playing football because it’s a money-making job.

“For him, it’s a job. I played with Benni at Spurs and in the national team. He used to not even know who we were playing against. Sometimes he would say about opponents or team-mates in the national team when the squad was changing, ‘Bass, who’s that?’, ” Bassong said.

“The best one I remember about Benni was when we were having the team photo at Tottenham and he arrived late….Rafael van der Vaart had just signed and I was next to him. So Benni was shaking hands and when he got to Rafa, he shook his hand, stood still and looked at him. And then he asked me in French: ‘Who’s that?’ I said: ‘It’s Van der Vaart.’

“Benni said: ‘OK, nice to meet you.’ Harry [Redknapp, the Spurs manager] had to explain. He told Rafa: ‘Don’t worry, he doesn’t know who you are, he doesn’t know anything about football, but he’s a great player.'”

Assou-Ekotto’s tells it as he sees it and doesn’t fakes things as is common in football circles which surely explains why the deeply religious Bassong rates him as a friend.

“I believe in God and read the Bible everyday,” Bassong says. “There are some days when your faith goes down a little bit, for whatever reason, but it’s always there. It’s a big part of my life. Football is a different world. The way I see football … there is loads of fake. You’re not living in the real life. For me, the real life will start when I stop playing football.”


Read the full story in The Guardian  here. The excerpts are based on an interview with BT Sport which is the UK’s newest sports TV service, with three channels showing a host of sport, including live top tier action from the Barclays Premier League, with 38 exclusively live matches.

Finke Wants Cameroon to Play Collective Football

Barely five months to the World Cup in Brazil, Volker Finke, Cameroon’s head coach has been talking about what he hopes to achieve with the Indomitable Lions at the tournament. He spoke to fifa.com about instilling the importance of collective and possession football in the Indomitable Lions as they seek to improve on their dismal World Cup 2010 outing in South Africa.

Here are some excepts:

UNITY 

“The team twice failed to qualify for the African Cup of Nations and did very badly at the 2010 World Cup, finishing with zero points,” Finke told FIFA.com. “They were very divided. Within the squad we’ve spoken together a great deal in the last few months. Thanks to that we’ve arrived at a point where, together with the captain Samuel Eto’o, a very good team spirit has developed. That’s been the key to our success.”

COLLECTIVE

“If you want to win in football the team has to maintain its concentration at all times and play well collectively,” said Finke… “That’s vital and it’s what we work on every day that we’re together. Only then is it possible to get good results.”

Image

REBUILDING

“The fact that Cameroon is a country where everyone loves football and where everyone remembers that in the 70s, 80s, 90s and right up until 2002 it was one of Africa’s footballing heavyweights means that expectations rise very quickly,” said Finke. “The reality is however, that we’re reconstructing and need to build things up again. Qualifying for the World Cup was an important part of that.”

You can read the full article here

Comment

All of these statements seem to be in keeping with Finke’s philosophy which Gef’s Football Club outlined in June last year on the eve of the German’s first competitive game in-charge of the four times African Champions. Finke is all about a high pressing game, fluid tactics formations and a focus on the team and not individuals.

At the time this blog wondered if a team so used to playing deep and soaking up pressure to strike via counter-attacks would be able to morph into a Barcelona type pressing team? Well, they didn’t have to become Barcelona. He simply chose the people who were ready to follow his instructions and style regardless of whether they played regular football in their teams or fans fancied them or not. It meant a rather difficult start with defeat to Togo (though the result was overturned by FIFA), goalless draws in Congo and Tunisia, a hard-earned 1-0 victory over Libya before a well deserved 4-1 thrashing of Tunisia in Yaounde in November.

But surely even Finke realises that a lot of work remains to be done.

The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon have been drawn against the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia in the last round of African qualifiers to next year’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil. It is not the first time that these two teams face each other in a direct knock-out challenge for a World Cup ticket. It was already the case in 1989 when Cameroon defeated Tunisia to clinch one of the (then) two tickets to represent Africa at the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

The video is a 56-seconds clip of highlights of the second-leg game played  in Tunisia which Cameroon won 1-0. The goal was scored at the 12th minute of play by Francois Omam Biyick – who went on to score Cameroon’s winning goal in the opening game of Italia 1990 against Diego Maradona’s Argentina.

The Indomitable Lions had defeated the Carthage Eagles 2-0 in the first-leg game in Yaoundé with goals from (the late) Louis Paul M’Fede and Emmanuel Kunde.

Can the present pride of Lions repeat such a performance?

The players who started for Cameroon in-front of 45,000 spectators at the El Menzah stadium in Tunis on 19 November 1989 in Tunis were:

Joseph Antoine Bell (GK); Bertin Ebwelle (LB), Stephen Tataw (RB), Emmanuel Kunde (CB), Jean-Claude Pagal (CB); Andre Kana Biyick (CM), Mbouh Mbouh Emile (CM), Louis Paul M’Fede (LW), Ernest Ebongue (RW); Eugene Ekeke (FW), Francois Omam Biyick (FW). 

The starting line-up for the Indomitable Lions on 8th October 1989 at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaoundé  were:  

Joseph Antoine Bell (GK); Bertin Ebwelle (LB), Stephen Tataw (RB), Emmanuel Kunde (CB), Jules Denis Onana (CB); Andre Kana Biyick (CM), Thomas Libih (CM), Louis Paul M’Fede (LW), Ernest Ebongue (RW); Bonaventure Djonkep (FW), Francois Omam Biyick (FW). 

Cameroon Keeper Kameni Joins Malaga from Espanyol

Idris Carlos Kameni, pictured here at a press conference with Cameroon, moves to Spanish Club Malaga

Cameroon national team goalkeeper, Carlos Kameni, has signed a two and a half year contract with Spanish Primera Liga club Malaga, sports websites reported on Wednesday.

The 27-year-old, who won the Olympic Gold medal with Cameroon in 2000, has had a tough time at Espanyol Barcelona this season.

Kameni had been rumoured to join Italian club, AS Roma, in August but the deal failed to happen and he has since been relegated to the bench at Espanyol.

Espanyol’s coach, Mauricio Pochettino, who was not expecting Kameni back in the team, had promoted his Argentinean compatriot Alvarez to number 1 keeper.

Kameni joined Espanyol in 2004 where he benefitted from the support and supervision of Thomas N’Kono, another great Cameroonian keeper who served the Catalan club as a player and later a coach.

At Malaga, Kameni would have to fight for the number one spot with Ruben Martinez and Wilfredo Caballero.

Malaga were bought over by wealthy owners who have brought in players like Rudd van Nistelrooy and Julio Baptista in a bid to contest the dominance of the Spanish League by FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.

However, Malaga currently lie in sixth place and 18 points behind leaders Real Madrid.

Cameroon’s women have won All-Africa Games gold for the first time by beating Ghana 1-0 in the women’s football final at Maputo’s national stadium while the men’s (U-23) team won Bronze at the tournament.

Madeleine Mani Ngono headed in a cross in the 56th minute in the Ladies’ final that was played in front of a very small crowd, the BBC reported on Saturday.

“We’re very pleased, but Nigeria are still the best team in Africa,” said Cameroon coach Enow Ngachu.

The victory is Cameroon’s greatest achievement in women’s football, the BBC said (full match report here).

Meanwhile Cameroon’s men’s team beat Senegal 5-4 after post-match penalty-kicks in the third place play-off game. Both teams were tied at 1-1 after normal time, Cafonline reported.

Cameroon won this tournament thrice in a row (1999, 2003 and 2007) but their hegemony ended this year when Ghana defeated them 1-0 at the semi-finals on Wednesday.

Cameroon’s head coach Javier Selected has picked a team with more attack minded players to start against Senegal in Yaounde this Saturday.

He has included three youngsters: Aboubakar Vincent, Benjamin Moukandjo and Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting. They will support Samuel Eto’o while he dropped Aurelien Chedjou and Henri Bedimo to the bench.

Gaetan Bong replaces Assou-Ekotto at left back while the rest of the defence remains unchanged with Amgwa Benoit (RB) and the duo Nicolas Nkoulou and Stephane Mbia as centre-backs.

Enoh Eyong and Landry Nguemo will play in the midle of the pack.

Here is the team: Kameni ; Angbwa – Mbia – Nkoulou – Bong ; Nguemo – Eyong – Moukandjo -Choupo – Aboubakar ; Eto’o.

I have not watched Cameroon train and the media have largely focused on side-events such as the tense relationship between Alex Song and Samuel Eto’o – which makes it hard to discuss coach Javier Clemente’s plans for Saturday.

Nevertheless, the Spaniard promised a more offensive game. Does that mean he would change his personnel to accommodate more attack-minded players than in Dakar?

A few reports have suggested that he is planning a 4-4-2 with Eto’o and Webo as the strikers, while the young, Monaco based forward, Benjamin Moukandjo (or Valenciene striker Vincent Aboubakar) would be fielded on the right flank. Unfortunately, the reports have not stated if Henri Bedimo (who plays left-back at Lens) would continue as left winger.

Clemente talks tactics with Choupo-Moting at half-time of Cameroon v Senegal, Dakar, 26 March 2011

If Clemente has effectively opted for 4-4-2 it would mean a greater use of the wings to stretch the game but it would also require the wide men to put-in inch-perfect crosses and have the ability to take their markers in one-on-one dribbles à la Valencia (Manchester United) to create space and allow the forwards to take suitable positions.

With only Webo as a good header of the ball against a Senegalese defence of very tall and physical players, banging ill-timed high crosses would be a fruitless strategy.

That formation would mean one-to-one battles in the midfield as opposed to the Dakar game while the Cameroon full-backs will be bereft of the protection from and extra midfielder. This would expose them to the trickery and pace of the Senegalese wingers (who are actually attackers).

THREE-MAN MIDFIELD

Moreover, this would not solve the key problem that Cameroon faced in Dakar which was lack of penetration from the centre. Nguemo was supposed to act like a box to box mid-fielder to support Webo but it didn’t quite work out.  Eto’o often had to retreat into central midfield positions to link up play. It’s a shame that Clemente did not retain Somen Tchoyi. He could have done this very well.

Nonetheless, I suspect Clemente would keep the shape of the team close to what we saw in Dakar  and play in a sort of 4-1-2-3. Sadly, Assou-Ekotto who adds an extra attacking dimension from full-back is an injury doubt.

I have not seen them practice so I can’t say for sure what coach’s choices would be. Using the 4-1-2-3 formation, here’s how I would field the players currently at his disposal against Senegal to ensure defensive balance, penetration from midfield as well as width and incisiveness from the attack:

A back four of: Benoit Amgwa (RB) – Nicolas Nkoulou (CB) – Sebastien Bassong (CB) – Gaetan Bong (LB).  Stephane Mbia (CM) to sit in-front of the back-four; Aurelien Chedjou (CM) and Landry Nguemo (CM) working box-to-box. A forward trio of: Benjamin Moukandjo (right) Samuel Eto’o (centre) and Maxim Choupo-Moting (left). The front-men can always switch positions.

Choupo-Moting and Moukandjo regularly play as wingers in their clubs (though they are strikers) and are technically good to cut-in from the flanks into the centre of attack (à la Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Di Maria). They are tactically aware enough to drop deep to form  a midfield 5 once Cameroon loses possession.

Nguemo, Mbia and Chedjou play more defensive roles in their clubs but in the past (especially at youth levels) they played in advanced positions for the national teams. They have the energy to do the box-to-box roles that is required of midfielders in such a formation to give thrust and penetration to attacks like Essien, Lampard used to do in Mourinho’s Chelsea.

The system is built on speed and power and thus accommodates the type of players Cameroon currently possesses when played in the Chelsea way rather than the Barcelona format which lays emphasis on technique.

But, I am not the coach. It’s down to Javier Clemente.

Here is part 1 of this preview that focuses on Senegal…

*Adds news of Assou-Ekotto and Matip’s selection

George Elokobi, the Wolverhampton Wanderers defender, has been included in Cameroon’s squad to face Senegal on 26 March in Dakar. He is part of three-man additional list that includes Joel Matip and Benoit Assou-Ekotto. The list was published late Friday in Yaounde.

Elokobi recently told the British media about his deep wish to be called up to represent his native land has seen his efforts on the field pay-off.

He replaces the injured Gaetan Bong who was on the initial 23-man team summoned to camp Javier Clemente, the Spain-born head coach of Cameroon.

Many observers were surprised that Clemente had picked Bong in the first place, as it was well known that the defender  has been out of action for a month.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto of Tottenham Hotspur, who is probably Cameroon’s best left-back at the moment is also called up to defend his national colours.

A national team insider told Gef’s Football Club that Clemente is punishing Assou-Ekotto for perceived indiscipline but it now seems public and government pressure has swayed the Spaniard (see separate story on Gef’s Football Club).

Roger Milla, Cameroon’s football legend, had taken offence at Clemente’s decision to leave out some players who have been performing in their clubs on the grounds of discipline.

“Those who have compiled this list (team selection) do not like Cameroon. You cannot suspend players and claim to have the best team… If you want the best team, you call everyone,” Milla is quoted as saying.

However, as suggested by a poster on Gef’s Football Club, it is about time Cameroonians stop focusing on who’s absent and concentrate on supporting those included in the squad.

“Those who have been called up should take the challenge and make Cameroonians proud by bringing home all 3 points,” Ensah Bertrand said in a comment on a strory about Elokobi’s fortitude.

The man born in Mamfe, joins vice-captain Eyong Enoh and Mbuta Adongcho to bring to three the number of Cameroonians from the English-speaking part of the country who are part of the expedition to Dakar.

More tit-bits on Senegal v Cameroon to follow…

Fecafoot confirms 22 for Poland game

Cameroon’s foootball governing body (Fecafoot), on Monday, officially released the squad of 22 players to travel to Poland for an international friendly on August 11, 2010.

The list published on the Fecafoot website is exactly the same as the one which was disclosed by the Polish Football Federation, as reported here over the weekend.

It confirms that Idriss Kameni, Alex Song, Achille Emana, Geremi Njitap, Idrissou Mohammadou, Souleymanou Hamidou, Achille Webo have been axed.