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Cameroon seek positive start on return to World Cup stage

Rigobert Song passes instruction to his players. PHOTO/FIFA
  • Cameroon had not qualified for the last two editions
  • They start off their campaign against Switzerland
  • They are coached by legend Rigobert Song

Cameroon return to the World Cup stage after missing the last edition, and will hope for a positive start when they kick off their 2022 campaign against Switzerland in Doha on Thursday afternoon.

The indomitable Lions failed to qualify for Russia 2018, but snatched progression under Song’s tutelage when they edged out Algeria. The Cameroonians beat Algeria 2-1 in extra time at their own backyard to proceed on the away goal rule.

They had lost the first leg 1-0 at home, but put up a better show away from home, winning 1-0 in regulation time to force the game to extra time, where they scored one more goal. Karl Toko Ekambi scored the most important goal for the Cameroonians in the fourth minute of added time to sail them to Qatar.

And now, Song and his charges will look to start off their campaign well and try emulate the spirit of the 90’s team which reached the quarter finals, the best ever performance by a Cameroonian team.

Since that remarkable run, Cameroon’s World Cup campaigns have looked eerily similar, with group-stage eliminations in 1994, 1998, 2002, 2010 and 2014.

One of the men who played an integral role in Cameroon reaching the quarters of Italia ’90, Roger Miller, is with the team in Doha and will look to impart some knowledge and good luck to the team as they seek to do well.

Skipper Abubakar confident

Vincent Aboubakar celebrates after completing the comeback for Cameroon

Cameroon captain Vincent Abubakar is confident that the team can do well, despite being drawn in a tough pool that also has Brazil and Serbia.

“We, however, are also a big team, representing a big country, and we believe we can go far. We let our football do the talking. This tournament features the best teams in the world, and we have to prepare well in order to compete,” Abubakar said before the match.

Cameroon will look to make improvements from their performance at the Cup of Nations which they hosted in January, but failed to progress to the final.

Rigobert Song, a man under pressure, will be keen to prove his doubters wrong with victory over a good team as Switzerland. They will also look to be the first African team to earn victory in Doha.

Senegal lost their first game 2-0 to the Netherlands while Tunisia and Morocco both played to goalless draws against Denmark and Croatia respectively.

Players to watch

Cameroon celebrate after winning bronze

Among the players who will be key for Cameroon include captain Aboubakar and goalkeeper Andre Onana. Onana has earened the starting gloves at Inter Milan since making the switch from Ajax and his growth in stature and experience will be key for Cameroon.

Midfielder Franck Zambo-Anguissa who has been a cog of the Napoli midfield that is dominating both the Champions League and Italian Serie A is also looked upon to guide the Cameroonians to a good performance in Doha.

In attack, apart from skipper Abubakar, Ekambi, who scored the famous goal that took the Lions to Cameroon will be a key member of the side.

Eric Maxim Choupo Moting who has been banging goals for fun at Bayern Munich will also be a man keenly to watch for the Cameroonian side and he hopes he can transfer his club form to country.

Cameroon World Cup squad

Goalkeepers

Devis Epassy (Abha Club), Simon Ngapandouetnbu (Marseille), Andre Onana (Inter Milan)

Defenders

Jean-Charles Castelletto (Nantes), Enzo Ebosse (Udinese), Collins Fai (Al Tai), Olivier Mbaizo (Philadelphia Union), Nicolas Nkoulou (Aris Salonika), Tolo Nouhou (Seattle Sounders), Christopher Wooh (Stade Rennes)

Midfielders

Martin Hongla (Verona), Pierre Kunde (Olympiakos), Olivier Ntcham (Swansea City), Gael Ondoua (Hannover 96), Samuel Oum Gouet (Mechelen), Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa (Napoli)

Attackers

Vincent Aboubakar (Al Nassr), Christian Bassogog (Shanghai Shenhua), Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (Bayern Munich), Souaibou Marou (Coton Sport), Bryan Mbeumo (Brentford), Nicolas Moumi Ngamaleu (Young Boys Berne), Jerome Ngom (Colombe Sportive du Sud Officie), Georges-Kevin Nkoudou (Besiktas), Jean-Pierre Nsame (Young Boys Berne), Karl Toko Ekambi (Olympique Lyonnais)

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