Tag Archive: jacques songo’o


Cameroon have won a friendly football tournament (LG Cup) after they defeated Morocco 4-2 during a penalty shoot-out. Both teams were tied 1-1 after regular play time and had to revert to penalties to have a winner as per the rules of the competition.

Denis Lavagne (left) and his assistant Ndtoungou Mpile (right) win first trophy but did they get their tactics right? (Photo by Linus Pascal Fouda, Team Press Officer)

Samuel Eto’o, Henri Bedimo, Dany Noukeu and Enoh Eyong scored their spot kicks for Cameroon while while Morocco missed two of theirs.

Cameroon may have won but Morocco were the better playing side for most of the 90 minutes (plus injury time). Their short passing was precise, with regular one-twos and give-and-go passes that ran the Cameroon midfield ragged.

The Atlas Lions (Morocco) also showed they had the capacity to switch their game, adding more penetration that took Cameroon’s midfield off-guard. This put the centrebacks: Georges Mandjeck (preferred to Joel Matip) and Dany Noukeu on the back-foot

The Indomitable Lions were playing a 4-3-3 where the fullbacks were expected to bomb forward to create width and support the attackers but Morocco played so high-up and at such high tempo that, Bernard Angbwa (right-back) and Henri Bedimo (Left-back) were hemmed-in for most of the encounter.

FIGHTING SPIRIT OVER TECHNIQUE

Two games in two days may have stretched the Indomitable Lions physically. They were forced (by a deluge of injuries) to start with the same that played against Sudan on Friday. However, in a very Cameroonian never-say-die spirit (which had been missing for a while) the team refused to lose.

By the 75th minute when Eto’o scored the curtain-raiser, the Moroccans had obtained 8 corner-kicks to Cameroon’s none. The Moroccans also squandered several goal scoring opportunities, often shooting wide but also denied by the impressive N’Dy Assembe in Cameroon’s goal.

Towards the last 15 minutes of the first-half and during a 15-minute spell before and after Eto’o’s opener Cameroon, however regained the upper-hand. Enoh, Landry N’Geumo and Alex Song fighting for every ball and blocking every space in midfield.

The technique from young Vincent Aboubakar and substitutes Edgar Salli and Jacques Zoua temporarily shifted the balance of power. Were it not for for a really poor final shot from Jean Makoun after a superb combination, Cameroon would have been 2-nil up before the Moroccans equalised.

The Olympiakos player who is not a first choice for Cameroon anymore surely lost the little sympathy fans still have for him.

RETURN OF THE 4-3-3 DEBATE

It is not unusual for Cameroon to win games and tourneys without being the most pleasing side to watch. The Junior Lions typified this Cameroonian quality during the African Youth Championships and the U-20 World Cup tournaments this year.

Nonetheless Cameroon fans have already started complaining about the 4-3-3 formation that coach Denis Lavagne is using. (Does that sound familiar Mr Le Guen?) Many have suggested on online forums that Cameroon hasn’t got the players for that system so the team should return to a  4-4-2  formation that will provide natural width.

I don’t really fancy Cameron playing a system that hinges on wide men. They do not have the players that Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United and Harry Rednapp’s Tottenham have got. Does Cameroon have Nani, Ashley Young, Gareth Bale and Lennon type players?

The country produces mostly players who feature in the centre of the pitch (centre-backs, central midfielders and strikers). Only the list of centre-backs and defensive midfielders could make up a squad:  Nicolas Nkoulou, Stephane Mbia, Aurelien Chedjou, Sebastien Bassong, Yaya Banana, Dany Noukeu, Guy-Armel Kana Biyick, Andre Bikey, Joel Matip, Alex Song, Eyong Enoh, Landry N’geumo, etc.

A DIAMOND COMPROMISE

Indomitable Lions coaches have resorted to playing systems where they can adapt some of the strikers as wide forwards (but not wingers) or playmakers or given creative roles to otherwise defensive midfielders.

This has usually meant playing formations such as 4-2-3-1, 4-3-2-1 (a.k.a Christmas Tree) and 4-3-3. When they have tried playing 4-4-2, they have been forced to use fullbacks (such as Henri Bedimo) as wingers, drawing the ire of the same fans and media calling for a return to ‘simple ways’.

A compromise between playing 4-4-2 and fitting the kind of players at the disposal of Cameroon’s coaches would be to play a diamond midfield: a holding midfielder, a playmaker behind two strikers and 2 shufflers running the channels in midfield (playing narrow) but not wingers.

Although, I’d advise the managers to do things as they deem right for the team, they might want to try a diamond midfield against a relatively weaker opponent. Isn’t it one of  Martin Ndtoungou Mpile’s (deputy head coach) favourite formations?

However, there’d be little width except the fullbacks join in (requiring a lot of defensive and attacking duties for them). The game would be overly dependent on the playmaker being able to click creatively but also supporting the defence.

Denis Lavagne has been named interim head coach of Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions. He is at the helm of a three-man team that includes Martin Ndtoungou Mpile as deputy head coach and Pierre Mbarga as goalkeeping trainer.

Their mission is to qualify Cameroon for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations to be hosted by South Africa. In order words, they must succeed where the previous staff headed by the Spaniard Javier Clemente failed.

Clemente and his assistants Francois Omam Biyick and Jacques Songo’o were sacked on Tuesday for failing to qualify the Lions to the 2012  Africa Nations Cup  in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

Is this 47-year-old Frenchman the right man for the job?  Was he appointed simply because he is a foreigner willing to stay in Cameroon as some pundits have claimed in the media? (Listen to him speak moments after his appointment).

Lavagne was an assistant coach at four clubs – Nimes, Bastia, Valence and Bezier – in France’s lower leagues. He then became head of the academy at Sedan football club in France and Qatar Sports club in Qatar. He landed at Cotonsport Garoua in Cameroon in 2007 after a brief assignment in China.

He led Cotonsport to a number of championship victories as manager and then became the technical director of the club’s academy. After a short break-up with the Cotonsport management he returned as a Manager, a position he held until his appointment to the Lion’s Den.

Cameroon’s football legend, Roger Milla, does not believe winning national championships with Cotonsport is enough to make Lavagne a good coach for the Lions. Some Cameroonians think the Frenchman is a light-weight with regards to the calibre of players Cameroon has (many of whom play for top clubs in Europe).

The Frenchman told national radio that he would prove his worth on the field. His supporters highlight his understanding of the mentality of Cameroonian players and the politics that goes on in the national team. Big names like Paul Le Guen, Arthur Jorge and Clemente did not have this knowledge which explains their faliure, it is argued.

Cameroon’s most successful expatriate coaches have generally been unknown prior to their arrival in the country, according to a Cameroon football official we spoke to this afternoon.

Claude Leroy, who led the Lions to victory in 1988 at the Africa Cup of Nations; Pierre Lechantre who did the same in 2000 and Valery Nepomniachi,who was in-charge when the Lions reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 1990; had little pedigree before they landed in Cameroon, he explained.

WHAT ABOUT NDTOUNGOU

Yet, several TV pundits and newspaper columnists believe that the job should have been handed to Martin Ndtoungou (Lavagne’s deputy) who  is more experienced in managing national teams.

Ndtoungou was Winfried Schaffer’s assistant in 2003 when the Lions reached the finals of the Confederations Cup in France. He is a three-time winner  (as assistant in 1999 and 2003 and as head coach in 2007) of the Gold Medal at the All Africa Games with the U-23 national squad. He won the Olympic Gold Medal in 2000 as Jean Paul Akono’s assistant and led the U-23 squad to the quarter-finals of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

This year he was in-charge of the Junior Lions (U-20) team that finished second in the African Youth Championships and led them to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Columbia.

He knows almost all the players who are vying for a place in the national team because he has been their trainer at youth or senior level. Why Ndtoungou accepted to be an assistant  is a mystery to many.

The 53-year-old told national radio that he discussed with Lavagne, the Cameroon Football Federation and the Ministry of Sport and decided to put a hold on his personal ambitions (to be head coach) for the good of Cameroon football.

The football official we spoke to said this was Cameroon’s form of a Jurgen Klinsman and Joachim Loew tandem as Germany operated between 2004 and the end of the 2006 World Cup.

“Loew was clearly more experienced and tactically stronger but Klinsmann had that punch and determination to make a name that uplifted the Germans,” the official who did not want to be named  said.

“We hope that would happen for us and by the way it is an interim appointment which means the door isn’t closed,” the official added.

Whatever people’s personal views, Denis Lavagne is now in-charge. Hopefully, Cameroonian sports reporters and pundits would switch from debates over race and the nationality of the coach to discuss his tactics and concept of football.

Is he a defensive or attack minded coach? Does he prefer 4-4-2; 4-2-3-1;4-3-3; 3-3-1-3; 3-4-3 or 4-5-1?  Does he prefer his teams to play direct football or does he insist on construction from the back with short-passes in tight spaces?

Last year the media forgot about these things when Clemente was named only to become surprised and disgusted over the Spaniard’s ultra-defensive approach whereas that was the man’s identity – known to all specialists.

Why is it that footballers  born in France , with French nationality and in some cases have even represented France at junior level choose to play for the countries of their fathers and /or mothers?

Whereas the commonly held response to this question is that these players don’t have the quality to be picked for France, Cameroon’s Sebastien Bassong and Benoit Assou-Ekotto have given an interview to the U.K. Guardian newspaper that could be a pointer to a more disturbing reason (for the French): bad integration of African and Arab communities in the French society.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Sebastien Bassong in their Cameroon colours

They explain that people from Arab or African communities face serious integration problems in France to the point that they develop strong attachment to their original and/or ancestral roots which may suggest why more and more of these young people switch football nationalities without difficulty.

“…coming from where I did in France, even if you had only one little drop of Moroccan blood, for example, you would represent it to the death. You would be fiercely proud of being African, says Assou-Ekotto who was born in France to a French mother and a Cameroonian father and proudly represents the latter nation.

Assou-Ekotto who grew up in Arras , France and now plays professional football at Tottenham Hotspur in London, says people in England are fiercely proud of being English even when their parents come from elsewhere and the society accepts that, which is a big difference to France.

His Spurs colleague Bassong concurs.

“Most of the players on the French national team come from rough areas and when you live there, your friends all have dual nationalities,” said Bassong , who played for the French U-21s before switching to play for the land of his father and mother.

When he was in the France Under-21 team, he gave an interview in which he admitted “my heart beats for Cameroon.” He did not play for France again, according to the Guardian.

“When you ask them (French players) where they are from, they will say Senegal, Morocco, Algeria…,” he added.

It is to be expected that the French would want to understand why players switch from France to other countries at senior level. At the World Cup,  there were nine players on other sides who had previously played for France, according to the BBC.

Cameroon’s squad at the 2010 World Cup included three players  who at one stage of their careers had represented France: Sebastien Bassong (French U-21), Gaetan Bong (French U-21 until 2010) and Alexandre Song (French U-16 in 2002).

However, the attempt to limit this trend was  poorly tackled by French Football Federation officials (including the France head coach Laurent Blanc) who digressed into near racial undertones during a meeting that was recorded by a member of the Federation, and  was leaked to the press igniting a massive scandal.

The French Federation and Sports ministry officials launched separate  investigations  while  the French National Technical Director, Francois Blanquart, was suspended.

It should be noted here that Blanquart was the coach of the France under 16 team in 2002 that included Alexandre Song and Frank Songo’o who today play for Cameroon as well as Samir Nasri of Arsenal who represents France.

Assou-Ekotto who, [unlike Alex Song (born in Douala) and Frank Songo’o (born in Yaounde)], never adorned a French national team shirt before choosing to play for his African nation, believes the French society has a bigger issue to address.

“France has, at its heart, a problem where it has been unable or unwilling to accommodate the sons and daughters of its former colonies, even though France benefited and enriched itself greatly from the relationship. That’s hard to accept and it’s what sits at the base of what is dysfunctional in France,” the left full-back told the Guardian.

You can read the original story published by the Guardian online here

Cameroon under new head coach, Javier Clemente, started their 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers with a 3-1 defeat of Mauritius on Saturday in Port Louis.

Team captain Samuel Eto’o scored twice while Eric-Maxim Choupo Moting sealed the game for Cameroon via a penalty kick after he had been heavily brought down by a Mauritius defender.

In-between Eto’o’s goals, Mauritius scored from the penalty-spot through Jonathan Bru but the islanders hardly perturbed the four-time African Champions who were intent on forgetting their woeful World Cup in South Africa.

Tactically, the Lions were deployed as a 4-4-2 while Mauritius chose to play in a very defensive 4-5-1. In principle this meant that the Lions were out-numbered in the midfield but it was practically not the case as Samuel Eto’o regularly dropped off the front line to play as an advanced midfielder in the hole between the midfield and the attack.  This left Choupo-Moting as the furthest man forward and gave the impression of a 4-4-1-1.

TACTICS

Eto’o’s deep role not only added an extra man in midfield, it also drew his markers out of position and released Marcel Ndjeng (offensive midfielder) on the right and Henri Bedimo (offensive midfielder) on the left. Cameroon’s early goal scoring opportunities effectively fell to these men (Ndjeng in particular) who often cut into the 18 yard box to occupy the spaces abandoned by the sloppy Mauritius defence.

However, Ndjeng missed two inviting opportunities (a poor kick and a weak header) while Bedimo’s cut-backs (crosses) into the heart of the Mauritius defence lacked precision.

The Lions dominated possession with short, quick inter-positional passes and brilliant approach play on the ground although the pitch was awful. They pressed high-up with their defenders practically playing near the centre-line.

There was real cohesion given that the eleven players (N’Dy-Assembe, Nkoulou, Bassong, Binya, Assou-Ekotto, Chedjou, Makoun, Bedimo, Ndjeng, Choupo-Moting, Eto’o) who started the game were same as those who were at kick-off in Cameroon’s 3-0 victory over Poland in an international friendly in August.

They were however caught by a rare Mauritius counter-attack after a really poor pass by Jean Makoun in the midfield leaving his centre-backs in limbo. Nicolas Nkoulou made a hash of his duel with the attacker resulting in a penalty and the host team’s lone goal.

Clemente didn’t change his men at the break but he made a slight re-organisation with Eto’o playing alongside Choupo-Moting in the early stages of the second half. It was in that position that the Inter Milan striker received a beautiful pass from Bedimo and slotted his and Cameroon’s second goal.

POOR FINISHING

The final15 minutes of play saw improved passing and dribbling from Cameroon as Eto’o dropped into  “the hole” again (and often on the left of the attack) to support Vincent Aboubakar, Choupo-Moting and later Bienvenu Tsama. Aurelien Chedjou and Enoh Eyong (who replaced Bedimo) were impressive in their midfield roles of recuperation and relay.

Sadly, the finishing remained lacklustre. The coaches would have to tackle that aspect of Lions’ game before the next encounters.  Mauritius came to defend and didn’t look like they had any hopes of winning; that would surely not be the case against Senegal and Congo (DRC).

Meanwhile, the Lions are too dependent on their left flank for creativity and punch. Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Bedimo make a very interesting partnership switching between left-back and left-midfield positions; Gilles Binya and Ndjeng need to match this on the right.

Binya (a defensive midfielder in his club) is reluctant to overlap as normal full-backs would do. Ndjeng is technically adroit and knows when to cut into attacking positions to take up spaces left by attackers (Eto’o and Choupo-Moting) but must improve his speed and precision in-front of goal.

There was very little defending to do but the central defence partnership of Bassong and Nkoulou looked rusty at times. Both players have not seen a lot of first team football at their European clubs and that was evident in their lack of pace during rare incursions by Mauritius’ attack-line. Their technique, composure, tactical intelligence and positional awareness compensated this time around but they must be sharp in the coming matches.

The game was not exceptional or memorable, except (maybe) for Samuel Eto’o who scored his 50th goal in a Cameroon shirt on the day of his 100th cap. However, on a weekend which saw France beaten at home by Belorussia (0-1) and Portugal held to a 4-4 draw by lowly Cyprus, it was good to see the boys win.

Goalkeeper Hugo Nyame of Astres Douala will be the new lion in the den when Cameroon’s internationals meet ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations (AfCon) qualifier against Mauritius next 4 September.

He is the only player from the country’s  local league in the list of 23 released by the Cameroon football Federation (FECAFOOT) on Friday.

Spain based Frank Songo’o, who impressed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and later appeared for the senior Lions under Otto Pfister, is making a come-back.  Songo’o is expected to be an extra wide player (especially on the right) as Cameroon seem to be reverting to 4-4-2.

Stephane Mbia and Nicolas Nkoulou who picked-up two yellow cards each at the World Cup will also make the trip.  FECAFOOT officials say CAF has authorised them to compete.

The squad is very similar to the one Jacques Songo’o (as interim manager) led to a 3-0 victory over Poland on 11 August. Only Paul Alo’o Efoulou has been dropped.

It is widely thought that the list is Jacques Songo’o’s  handiwork given that the newly appointed head coach, Javier Clemente, has still to sign a formal contract.  The Spaniard is expected to put pen on paper in Yaounde on 28 August.

Here’s the complete squad:

Goalkeepers

  1. Guy Roland NDY ASSEMBE – FC Nantes
  2. Joslain MAYEBI – CD Fatima, Portugal
  3. Hugo NYAME – Les Astres FC Douala, Cameroun

Defenders

  1. Benoit ASSOU EKOTTO – Tottenham Hotspur
  2. Sébastien BASSONG – Tottenham Hotspur
  3. Gaëtan BONG – Valenciennes FC
  4. Stéphane MBIA – Olympique Marseille
  5. Nicolas NKOULOU – AS Monaco
  6. Stéphane BIKEY AMOUGOU – Burnley FC
  7. Augustin Gilles BINYA – Neuchatel Xamax

Midfielders

  1. Aurélien CHEDJOU – Liile OSC
  2. Jean II MAKOUN – Olympique Lyonnais
  3. Joel MATIP – FC Schalke 04
  4. Georges MANDJECK – Stade Rennais
  5. Eyong Enoh – Ajax Amsterdam
  6. Henri BEDIMO – RC Lens
  7. Franck SONGO’O – Real Zaragoza
  8. Marcel NDJENG – FC Augsburg

Attackers

  1. Jacques ZOUA – FC Basel
  2. Henri Bienvenu NTSAMA – BSC Young Boys
  3. Vincent ABOUBAKAR – Valenciennes FC
  4. Eric Maxim CHOUPO-MOTING – SV Hamburg
  5. Samuel ETO’O FILS – Inter Milan

Cameroon’s sport authorities have appointed Javier Clemente as the head coach of the country’s national football team with former internationals Francois Omam Biyick and Jacques Songo’o as his assistants, State radio (CRTV) said on Tuesday 17 August 2010.

He replaces Paul Le Guen who resigned in June following a dismal World Cup campaign in South Africa.

Clemente, a former spain coach (1992-1998) and twice winner of the Spanish  league, is expected in Cameroon on 28 August to sign his contract, according to a release by the country’s ministry of sport.  

CAPTAINS AS DEPUTIES

Omam Biyick, a former captain of the Indomitable Lions is joining the Lions’ coaching staff for the first time. He is fondly remembered for scoring Cameroon’s goal against Argentina in the opening game of the 1990 World Cup.

His former Canon of Yaounde team-mate, Songo’o (also a former national team captain) was until Clemente’s appointment the interim manager. Songo’o was Le Guen’s deputy in-charge of goalkeeping and had held the same role under Portuguese born Arthur Jorge between February 2005 and February 2006.

“The new staff is taking over at a time when a detailed review of the organisation of football in general, and the national teams in particular, is near completion,” the statement said.

NEW RULES

There will be new internal rules for the national teams, Manga Zambo, the head of judicial affairs in Cameroon’s Ministry of Sport and Physical Education told CRTV.

“The main innovation will be a real disciplinary code…as a huge part of this document is about mutual respect, patriotism…and clearly stipulates what is banned from the national team,” Zambo said.

Local media and some football officials blamed lack of discipline, in-fighting and absence of commitment for Cameroon’s lacklustre performances at the World Cup.

These new document will also the various types of punishments – ranging from a simple reprimand, through suspension to outright eviction from the national team, Zambo added.

Whoever becomes Cameroon’s next head coach will have to watch a video of the Indomitable Lions’ 3-0 defeat of Poland. It wasn’t that spectacular. It wasn’t completely smooth. It wasn’t against the African Champions, talk less of the World Champions. It was simply the sweet taste of victory after a run of 10 games without a win.

What did Jacques Songo’o (interim coach) do that hadn’t been done since January 2010?

Surely, there must have been something different.

1. The team played in a 4-4-2 formation using old-fashioned wingers. Henri Bedimo on the  left  and Marcel Ndjeng on the right  drove Cameroon’s game forward alongside the over-lapping Benoit Assou-Ekotto (left-back) in particular, and Augustin Binya (right-back).

Many pundits claim this formation is dying or dead. They argue that most teams play with 3 to 5 midfielders who would out-number any central midfield of just two men. Variations of 4-3-3, such as 4-2-1-3 or 4-2-3-1 are now en vogue (Paul Le Guen should be smiling)! Nonetheless, Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United appeared in a 4-4-2 and beat a Chelsea side that was using 4-3-3 at the Community Shield (3-1 the scoreline).

Most managers say a formation alone is never really the decider. One needs the right men to make those formations work to create the necessary offensive and defensive moves.

2. There was cover/movement on the flanks. The presence of these “wingers” provided cover for the full-backs in the event of a quick counter-attack. At the World Cup in South Africa, once Assou-Ekotto ,the most daring of the full-backs, surged forward there was no-one to take the space he had left behind him. The opposing teams simply had to hoof the ball over to his vacant position to create dangerous counter-offensives.

With Bedimo ahead of  Assou-Ekotto, the left back didn’t need to make risky forays into the opposing camp.When he did Bedimo and/or Sebastien Bassong (centre-back) shifted into his zone. Ndjeng, Binya and Nicolas Nkoulou did the same on the right.

3. The virtues of team-work and solidarity on display. If the Lions dominated play for long spells  it was not due to the change in formation alone.  The players and different compartments (defence, midfield attack) put in a shift for each other. Football is a team sport. If a unit does not move to replace another part which is in difficulty, there are holes everywhere for the opponent to penetrate.

Aurelien Chedjou displayed such abnegation to plug the holes created by his mates. He confirmed that he is a midfielder and not a centre-back or full-back. His strengths being technique (seen in his two assists for Eto’o), positional awareness and ability to intercept opposition passes without reckless tackles.

4. Eto’o played as a central striker, scored and was subbed. The skipper played alongside Maxim Choupo-Moting in a front two that needs more games together. However, his brace was  typical goal-poacher’s art. He has scored in every game since he was re-positioned as a central striker. He put his experience to use by drifting to the left-flank and dropping deep into midfield positions to create opportunities for his attacking mates.  When he looked tired he was substituted. Oh yes, it can be done.

5. Improved set-pieces. Cameroon scored from a corner kick. It’s so rare it can make news headlines. There was designated specialist so, we didn’t see 7 different persons taking corners in a single match. Marcel Ndjeng showed great quality at this task. The balls  reached useful areas in the 18-yard unlike in the past. Free-kicks also need such discipline in the days ahead.

6. Hunger. This team wanted to win or at least prove that it wasn’t useless. The way the substitutes Bienvenue Tsama and Vincent Aboubacar stormed into the game is testimony to this. Tsama scored upon his second touch but the goal was disallowed for an offside position. Aboubacar slotted his first for the national team less than 10 minutes after coming-in for Eto’o. Is  such motivation and desire to impress down to a Jacques Songo’o effect alone? The Lions were simply hungry.

6. Consistency to build confidence  and partnerships. Songo’o chose to build confidence and understanding between Nkoulou and Bassong  at the centre of defence. I believe it’s the best way of solidifying what I consider the country’s best centre-back pairing.  They are comfortable with the ball, read the game well, hardly foul recklessly and they’re complementary. One of Paul Le Guen’s weaknesses was his constant tinkering. He hardly played with the same team for two games.

With Nkoulou and Stephane Mbia suspended for the game against Mauritius  Songo’o could have tested the Bikey-Bassong partnership from the start. When Bikey came on as a substitute he was heavy and out of pace. Maybe he’s rusty because the season is barely starting. He could also be low on confidence after dropping in the pecking order. In another game and against tougher opponents his fouls and wrong passes would have cost Cameroon severely.

7. The seeds Le Guen sowed have begun to germinate under Songo’o.   Apart from Eto’o, Makoun, Binya and Bikey who were established Lions prior to Le Guen’s tenure (and Bienvenue Tsama called-up for the first time by Songo’o), eleven players who appeared in that game were either handed their first cap and/or given regular starting places  under the French-born manager.

His legacy could be seen on the pitch against Poland. Le Guen chose to dare and give a chance to a new generation players in a country where gerontocracy rules supreme and leaders revel in their glories passed instead of paving the way for future conquests.

He ultimately failed to deliver a trophy or a World Cup quarter-final berth. He led the team to a terrible streak of poor results. He was stubborn, intractable, reportedly cost a fortune and he admitted that his casting for the World Cup was poor.

Many are surely glad to see the back of him, others don’t want his name pronounced again but let’s give him credit where it is due. He planted seeds called Aboubacar, Choupo-Moting, Enoh, Bong, Bedimo, Ndjeng, Mandjeck, Chedjou, Nkoulou, Bassong, Ndy Assembe that have begun to sprout.

As Jacques Songo’o, a Cameroon international from 1983 to 2002 (including two years as skipper), led this pride of  Lions to victory in Poland, souvenirs of the disappointing displays in Angola and South Africa crossed my mind. Things could have been different. Will they ever be different in Cameroon?