Tag Archive: ghana

Cameroon’s U-20  team qualified for the final of the African Youth Championships after they beat Egypt 4-2 in post-match penalty kicks in South Africa on Thursday.  The Lions will  face Nigeria’s Flying Eagles on Sunday to determine who suceeds Ghana as the champions of Africa.

After 120 minutes of tactically intense play, neither Cameroon’s junior Lions nor their Egyptian opponents managed to score a goal thus leaving the semi-final to be decided on a penalty shoot-out.  Egypt failed to score their first and second spot-kicks while Cameroon scored four of theirs.

The Egyptians were furious at the referee and his assistants, who ruled on two occasions that Cameroonian players  should re-take their shots which had been stopped by Egypt’s goalkeeper. The keeper was adjudged to have stepped forward from his line before Nyantchou and Yaya Banana kicked and missed. Both players scored on their separate second-takes.

Egypt has been Cameroon’s nemesis for years but the cubs’  head coach, Martin Ndtoungou Mpile,  had promised  to stun the north Africans who had beaten his side thrice in preparatory games ahead of this tournament.

“The Egyptian coach will be surprised on Thursday because we played the test matches without eight of our regular players. He has to know that preparation is one thing and the competition itself is another ball game,” Ndtoungou Mpile said.

Cameroon will be playing the final for the second time in a row. They were finalists in Rwanda in 2009 where they were beaten by Ghana that  went on to win the U-20 World Cup.

The Lions will be clashing with opponents they know well – since they beat the Nigerians 1-0 in a group game last week. But the Nigerians have since obtained two victories against the Gambia and Mali (semi-final) on a similar 2-0 score. They have one of the tournament’s best goal scorers -Uche Nwofor – with three goals.

Cameroon, on the other hand, find it  hard to score goals. They have scored only three goals since the competition started but they have the meanest defence (just one goal conceded).

Their disciplined, solid and very compact style was on display again in that semi-final  against Egypt.

The Egyptians rarely found space between the Cameroonian lines and all 10 outfield Lions fought for every ball – harrying their opponents like Real Madrid did in the first-half of the Copa del Rey final last Wednesday.

Central midfielders Nyantchou and Nkom were bustling with energy and their passing to the wide players was swift. But the final ball to the attackers was usually poor. The strikers Haman and Ohandza took their defensive tasks very seriously but sadly failed to make things work offensively.

Let’s see what happens in the final now. At least, Ndtoungou is on record that he plans to win it.

“We have come here to play. Our first objective of reaching the semi-finals has been achieved. Now we will focus on winning the semis and the finals,” he had told reporters before the match.

Cameroon beat the Gambia 1-0 to kick-start their CAF under-20 Africa Cup of Nations campaign in South Africa on Monday. The boys coached by Martin Ndtoungou Mpile were tactically disciplined, controlled most of the game and could (should) have won by more goals were it not for poor finishing and a really bad pitch.

Ndtoungou Mpile set the squad in a 4-4-2 and seemed to have insisted on the boys playing their way up-field instead of flinging long balls over the midfield (as has become common-place among many Cameroon national sides).

The team was compact when it lost the ball with all-four midfielders – Edgar Sally (on the right), Atouba Emane (on the left), Frank Kom and Nyantchou (in the centre) – chasing and harassing the Gambian players for the ball. The two attackers also put pressure high up the field when Cameroon lost possession, pushing the Gambians to skip their midfield via long-balls which were easily managed by the  Cameroonians.

Cameroon’s goalkeeper, Jean Konguep, spent long-spells of the game as a mere spectator. He was only startled back to life at the 72nd minute when he hesitated to come for the ball leaving a Gambian attacker the chance to shoot. Konguep parried the ball away but it fell to another opponent leading to some panicky clearance by the defence.

Both teams were, however, hindered by the poor playing surface. It looked like a farm overrun by a herd of cattle in the rainy season.

It appears all the teams play on the same turf.  Nigeria had beaten Ghana 2-1 on the same ground a few minutes before Cameroon and the Gambia locked-horns.

Yet, Cameroon constantly created movement on the flanks where the full-backs often surged forward through overlapping runs that created passing possibilities for their offensive and midfield team mates.

This hallmark of teams coached by Ndtoungou Mpile, ran the Gambians ragged particularly on the right flank where the full-back Serge Leuko and the offensive midfielder Edgar Salli seemed not to notice the state of the pitch.

Leuko, who plays for Levante in Spain, is one to watch because he is playing in position where there seems to a drought in quality for Cameroon for years.

On the left-flank Atouba displayed a very high work rate while Edimo Toko who replaced him in the dying moments of the game exuded sleekness and better technique. This showed in a brilliant run into the 18-yard box which ended with hard tackle from a Gambian defender. The Cameroon bench asked for a penalty but only got a corner – one of the dozen the team won.

But most of Cameroon’s possession was missused by strikers who  shot when they had to pass, and passed when it was time to shoot. Cameroon scored from a set-piece at the last minute of the first-half which is  testimony to their wastefulness in-front of goal in open-play.

The goal was scored by Cotonsport Garoua’s Edgar Salli whose hopeful kick was fluffed by the Gambian goalkeeper and dropped into the net. Ndtoungou Mpile must work on his team’s finishing before their next game against a very brilliant Nigerian side that gave the reigning African and World Champions, Ghana, a run for their money.

Between the 70th and 80th minutes the midfield had a serious deep in energy levels creating space for the Gambians who had their best spell in the game. Cameroon escaped that time because of it’s centre-back pairing – Yaya Banana and Ghislain Mvom – who played for the U-20s at the World Cup in 2009. They were calm and confident but they weren’t really tested by the Gambians – that won’t be the case against Nigeria.

It was good to watch a team coached by Ndtoungou Mpile again. He was Winfried Schaffer’s assistant when the Indomitable Liosn reached the final of the Confederations Cup in 2003.He has twice been involved in qualifying Cameroon for the Olympic Games (was Akono’s assistant in the 2000 gold medal winning squad) and has won the All Africa Games gold medal with the u-23 in 2007.

His 2008 crop of Olympic Lions were a blend of steel and beautiful play. It is surprising that authorities decided to demote him to the U-20s. The fact that his, is the only Cameroon national team to have qualified for a tournament this far is a vindication of his prowess.

Eto'o celebrates goal

Samuel Eto’o has won the CAF African Footballer of the Year award for a record fourth time after he was named the continent’s best player in 2010 at a ceremony in Egypt on Monday night.

The Cameroonian who won the European Champions league, the Italian Serie A, the Italian Cup and  Super-Cup, and the World Club Cup came ahead of Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan and Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba.

“I would like to seek your support to help Africa win the World Cup,” Eto’o said to Issa Hayatou,the chairman of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) while receiving the award.

The Inter Milan striker said the African continent has quality players, coaches and managers to be be able to attain that ojective.

He also heaped praise on TP Mazembe of the Congo Democratic Republic for flying Africa’s flag at the just ended FIFA World Club Cup. TP Mazembe became the first African team to reach the final of that tournament but were beaten 3-0 by Europe’s  Inter Milan, with Eto’o scoring and providing an assist for the Italians.

The runner-up, Ghana’s Gyan who was named BBC African Footballer of the Year last Friday, said he was young and had many years ahead of him to win the award.

“It’s a surprise to see me standing here before all these big men of Africa,” he said in reference to his youth and the achievements he had already made.

Gyan was the lead scorer for the  Black Stars of Ghana who reached the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola and the quarter-finals of the World Cup in South Africa this year.

He missed a last minute penalty that would have taken Ghana to the semi-finals of the competition but showed great courage as he took and scored a penalty kick during the shoot-out at the end of the match.

He may well return as a challenger for this award if he maintains his current club form at Sunderland in the English Premier League where he has been very influential in terms of goals and assists.

Gyan, Eto’o, and Drogba feature in CAF’s African Eleven of the year which also includes Egypt’s national team captain Ahmed Hassan who won the award for the Best African Footballer based in the African continent.