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Samuel Eto’o has announced that he is retiring from international football barely a few days after he was left out of a new look Cameroon squad and replaced as captain ahead of two Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in September.

“I wish to inform you that I hereby put an end to my international career. On this occasion, I wish to thank all Africans in particular and all my fans to around for their love and support,” a statement on the player’s Official Facebook page said on Thursday.

Eto’o who  joined English Premiership side Everton on a free transfer this week made his debut for Cameroon in an international friendly against Costa Rica in 1997. He was the youngest player to feature the World Cup in France in 1998. His big break on the international scene, however, came in the 2000 Africa Nations Cup when he starred alongside Patrick Mboma in the forward line of Cameroon’s title winning

Samuel Eto'o at a press conference in Dakar

Samuel Eto’o has said his final goodbye to the Indomitable Lions?

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He was part of the team that won an Olympic Gold Medal in Sydney in 2000 and went on to win a second Africa Cup in a row (Cameroon’s fourth) in 2002.

While he remains Cameroon’s all time best scorer at national team level, he continually faced criticism that despite his individual success (he is a four times African Player of the Year) and the trophies he won at club level in Europe (he won several Spanish league titles with FC Barcelona, two European Champions League trophies with the Catalan giants before adding a third with the Italian side Inter Milan) Cameroon stagnated at international level.

Troublesome Genius

He was often accused of fomenting trouble in the Cameroon dressing room, clashing with his team-mates, coaches and the country’s football authorities. Some suggested that he was the main protagonist in the row over World Cup participation premiums which led to Cameroon players refusing to board a flight to the World Cup in Brazil.

Although the Cameroon coach Volker Finke attributed his decision to leave Eto’o out of the squad to rejuvenation of the squad and also because the player had no club (at the time the squad was named), several Insiders felt the striker was paying the price for his role in that pre-World Cup farce and the disastrous campaign that followed.

Eto’o had in the past been suspended from the team for leading a player strike in 2012 when the Lions refused to play a friendly against Algeria over a row related to participation premiums.

Notwithstanding his rumored negative spots, Eto’o remained a real talisman for the Cameroon team and possibly the country’s most talented player at the moment. He will be missed by Cameroon, not for the goals he scored but more for his playmaking ability which were more apparent when he played for the national side.

In fact, he was rarely used as a central striker by most coaches from 2004, often deployed to the left or right of a three-man attack or as a playmaker behind the main striker.

It is the second time that Eto’o looks set to abandon the national colors. The difference this time though is that he made a formal announcement which wasn’t the case in late 2013 when it was rumored that he quit the selection.

He will be replaced as national team captain by Stephane Mbia who was appointed by the Cameroon minister for sport on Monday. Eric Choupo-Moting and Vincent Aboubakar were named vice-captains.

Meanwhile, veteran Cameroon midfielder Jean Makoun has also announced his retirement from international football. He had also been left out of the squad as Cameroon tries to rebuild after two humiliating World Cup participations in 2010 and 2014 and failing to qualify for the last two Africa. Cup of Nations tournaments.

UPDATE: Libya defeated Cameroon 2-1 in a 2012 FIFA World Cup qualifier on Sunday. Click here for six reasons why the Lions lost

Nicolas Nkoulou returns in the centre of Cameroon’s defence as the Indomitable Lions take on Libya’s Knights of the Mediterranean this Sunday, according to Cameroon media reports. Nkoulou, who had an impressive debut season for Marseille in the French Ligue 1,  was forced to watch his teammates beat Congo (DRC) 1-0 due to an injury.

Cameroon players training at Sousse in Tunisi

Cameroon players training at Sousse in Tunisia ahead of the game with Libya. Photo credit (hand-out): Linus Pascal Fouda (Team Press Officer)

He teams up with Lille’s Aurelien Chedjou to form what is looking like Cameroon’s favoured centre-back pairing. They played together versus Mauritius in Yaounde (under Javier Clemente) and against Guinea Bissau (under Denis Lavagne in Bissau). Nkoulou’s return means Dany Noukeu, who partnered Chedjou in Yaounde versus the DRC, drops to the bench.

Leonard Kweuke is the other played dropped from the starting eleven that played against the DRC . The big striker  has been replaced by Valencienne’s Vincent Aboubakar. The young Aboubakar is quicker, more technical  and can play in a wide position. With him on the pitch, it is evident that the coaches have gone for Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting as the main striker.

The left-back, Henri Bedimo,passed a fitness test and keeps his position. As such there are no other changes from the team that played last week. It is expected that the team would operate in coach Lavagne’s preferred  4-3-3 formation.

Here’s the complete starting eleven:  Goalkeeper: Idris Carlos Kameni

Defence: Georges Mandjeck (RB) – Nicolas Nkoulou (CB), Aurelien Chedjou (CB) – Henri Bedimo (LB)

Midfield: Landry Nguemo – Stephane Mbia – Alex Song

Attack: Vincent Aboubakar (RF) – Choupo-Moting (CF) – Benjamin Moukandjo (LF)

The match kicks off at 1600hrs (1700hrs in Cameroon) according to the BBC. The game will be played in Sfax, Tunisia for security reasons.