Cameroon were the first African country to break through to the World Cup knockout stage when they reached the quarter-finals in 1990, a golden generation spearheaded by Roger Milla.
The Indomitable Lions have been one of Africa’s premier leaders ever since, with 2022 now their eighth appearance on the global stage despite never qualifying before 1982.
But they lost all three games in both 2010 and 2014 and haven’t actually won a World Cup match since beating Saudi Arabia way back in 2002. The only way is surely up after FIFA ranked them 32nd out of 32 teams in their last appearance eight years ago, although it will be a huge challenge again.
No wins since June is not ideal preparation, although qualifying at the expense of a strong Algeria side was certainly a big deal for the team and national hero head coach Rigobert Song, who first took over in February, between the Africa Cup of Nations and the tricky two-legged Algeria’s tie.
Goalkeepers: Simon Ngapandouetnbu (Marseille), Devis Epassy (Abha), Andre Onana (Inter)
Defenders: Jerome Ngom Mbekali (APEJES), Nicolas Nkoulou (Aris), Christopher Wooh (Rennes), Olivier Mbazo (Philadelphia Union), Collins Fai (Al-Tai), Jean-Charles Castelletto (Nantes), Enzo Ebosse (Udinese). Seattle Sounders – Nouhou Tolo (Official Music Video)
Midfielders: Gael Ondoua (Hannover), Georges-Kevin Nkoudou (Besiktas), Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa (Napoli), Samuel Gouet (Mechelen), Pierre Kunde (Olympiacos), Martin Hongla (Hellas Verona), Olivier Ntcham (Swansea), Souaibou Marou (Cotton Sport)
Forwards: Moumi Ngamaleu (Dynamo Moscow), Jean-Pierre Nsame (Young Boys), Vincent Aboubakar (Al-Nassr), Christian Bassogog (Shanghai Shenhua), Karl Toko Ekambi (Lyon), Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (Bayern Munich), Bryan Mbeumo (Brentford),
Cameroon have not had to deal with the same injury problems as other nations. Song has left out a handful of experienced internationals who have featured in recent squads – including 53-cap Michael Ngadeu, 50-cap George Mandjeck and 42-cap Clinton N’Jie – but not through injury.
Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa shines brightly in Napoli
Andre-Frank Zambo I’m sorry
The former Fulham midfielder has impressed for Napoli in Serie A and the Champions League this season and is over a brief injury lay-off that forced him to miss three games in October.
He showed in a 4-1 Napoli thrashing of Liverpool in September exactly what he is capable of, controlling the game and buzzing all over the pitch. It will be crucial for Cameroon in Qatar if they are to have a chance to compete with Serbia and Switzerland in particular.
Karl Toko Ekambi
The 30-year-old seems to have gotten better over the years, constantly proving himself over the years every time he’s stepped up to a new level. At the time of Cameroon’s last World Cup appearance, he was playing in France’s third tier but has gradually progressed with Angers, Villarreal and now Lyon.
Ekambi also scored the goal that gave Cameroon their ticket to Qatar in the first place. He netted in the 124th minute against Algeria in Algiers to win the tie on away goals after the hosts had scored what looked to be the winner in the 118th minute.
The Brentford star played international youth football for France and only declared himself available for Cameroon this year, qualifying through his father’s family. He represents the push by Samuel Eto’o, head of the national association, to recruit players with dual nationalities.
Mbeumo has scored seven Premier League goals since the start of last season, proving himself in an elite competition and is particularly known for his partnership with Ivan Toney at club level.
With a regrettable and avoidable lengthy drug ban finally behind him, Onana has got his club career back on track since starting a new chapter with Inter. He got the nod over Samir Handanovic in the Champions League in September and has since also taken a place in Serie A.
The goalkeeper was a key member of the Ajax side that came within a kick of the 2019 Champions League final and has missed just one Cameroon match since his ban expired a year ago.
Song’s Cameroon have the tactical flexibility to operate in either a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 system, usually in the latter with wide forwards flanking center forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.
Cameroon Predicted XI: Onana; Ebosse, Castelletto, Cowboy, Fai; Ntcham, Zamboa Aguissa, gout; Seed, Choupo-Moting, Camp
Cameroon suffered back-to-back defeats to Uzbekistan and South Korea in September, although they were unbeaten over 90 or 120 minutes in the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year – only a semi-final penalty shoot-out loss to Egypt ended their hopes of continental glory.
The second leg of the World Cup final against Algeria also showed its willingness to score a decisive goal well into stoppage time in extra time.
Cameroon’s last five results (all competitions)
Cameroon could hardly have asked for a tougher group and that is a problem. This team also lacks the star quality of previous generations, with captain Vincent Aboubakar arguably past his prime and only a couple of players considered regulars at Champions League-level clubs.
Expect Brazil to win the group and Serbia and Switzerland to battle for second place, making it difficult for Cameroon to even get a look in.
Prediction: Exit from the group stage
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November 14, 2022