Cameroon’s ‘Indomitable Lions’ ready to roar in South Africa (Group E team profile)May 30th, 2010 - 5:45 pm ICT by IANS
Yaounde, May 30 (DPA) Although expectations were diminished when Cameroon went out of the Africa Cup of Nations in the quarter-finals earlier this year, it is worth remembering that many considered the ‘Indomitable Lions’ favourites going into World Cup football.
Cameroon are also thought of by many as the African team most likely to make an impact on the 2010 World Cup.
Given their history, it would make sense if Cameroon were able to make in-roads at Africa’s first World Cup, where they have been drawn into a rugged Group E against Japan, Denmark and the Netherlands.
Cameroon have been to the finals a continental-best six times, and at Italia ‘90 they became Africa’s first World Cup quarter-finalists - a mark only matched once by Senegal in 2002 but never exceeded.
Worryingly for the Lions’ supporters, their side have failed to have any impact since then. In fact, in the three World Cups between 1994 and 2002 they positively imploded: nine matches played, one win and a hefty goal difference against.
Failure to reach Germany 2006 after missing a penalty kick in the dying moments of their final qualifier against Egypt was considered a calamity.
Internal strife has been one significant culprit for this recent underachievement, and the manager tasked with keeping the Lions on track is Paul Le Guen - a respected club coach who has never been in charge at a World Cup previously.
Le Guen took over the four-time African champions after the beginning of qualifying and instigated an immediate turnaround in fortunes after a slow start under Otto Pfister. He handed the captaincy to beloved striker Samuel Etoo, the organization got better and the side won their next four matches to qualify.
Etoo was top scorer by some margin in the preliminaries with nine goals in 11 matches, and the Inter Milan strikers limitless potential is the biggest argument for Cameroon making an impact in South Africa.
Le Guen has been busy transitioning some of the younger players into the first team, and long-time workhorses Rigobert Song and Geremi are no longer automatic choices in defence.
Monacos Nicolas N’Koulou is a rising figure at the back, while Arsenals Alexandre Song is quickly emerging as the key man in midfield.
Jean Makoun and Achille Emana are seasoned options in the middle, while Stephane Mbia and Georges Mandjeck are exciting youngsters.
Mallorca hit-man Pierre Webo is a good foil up front for Etoo, and Freiburg veteran Mohamadou Idrissou offers another solid choice in attack.
A sluggish Cup of Nations in January - they won just one of their four matches - led to rumours that Le Guen was on his way out, but the Frenchman is bullish as ever.
“I’m not pessimistic about our chances and never have been,” he insists. “I am full of spirit and confidence, and I think I’m going to be working with a team capable of good things this summer.”
The coach: Frenchman Paul Le Guen, 45, seemed the ideal choice to coach Cameroon after he took over in July of last year. A defiant character who had never led a national team before, he brought discipline and purpose to a side that had opened qualifying with defeat at Togo and a home draw with Morocco.
A mediocre Cup of Nations in January left supporters questioning whether the aging team was heading in the right direction, but the Cameroonian FA kept faith with the coach that got them to the finals.
Most of Le Guens reputation previous to his time in West Africa comes from his part in Lyons three Ligue 1 titles in their heyday in the mid-2000s, but his spells at Glasgow Rangers and Paris St Germain were not as happy.
The star: After a decade as one of the best strikers in the world, the moment has arrived for Samuel Eto’o, 29, to emulate the heroics of Italia ‘90 star Roger Milla. And certainly the Inter Milan striker with the complete bag of attacking tricks has the potential to do even more damage.
He has starred for the Lions since he was a teenager, winning two African championships, an Olympic gold medal and three African Player of the Year awards along the way.
The former Barcelona star was the second-top scorer in Africa in qualifying for South Africa 2010 with nine goals, and his appointment as captain by Paul Le Guen was widely hailed. He played a small part at France ‘98 as a 17-year-old, and scored the winner against Saudi Arabia in the 2002 World Cup in Cameroons only victory.
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- Eto'o looms large over Japan-Cameroon opener - Jun 13, 2010
- Eto'o rejects Cameroon's invite - Aug 28, 2012
- Bolton striker Ngog to join Cameroon squad - Mar 13, 2012
- Cameroon captain Eto'o banned for 15 matches - Dec 17, 2011
- Milla wants Cameroon's football body sacked - Apr 20, 2012
- Akono replaces Lavagne as Cameroon football coach (Lead) - Sep 14, 2012
- Danish victory over Cameroon puts Dutch through (Lead) - Jun 20, 2010
- Japan upset Cameroon 1-0 in Group E (Lead) - Jun 15, 2010
- Roger Milla dismissed as honorary president - May 18, 2012
- Cameroon footballers want to play in India's I-League - Sep 04, 2012
- Cameroon and Denmark seek quick response to defeats - Jun 18, 2010
- Cameroon football coach Lavagne fired - Sep 14, 2012
- Van Persie scores as Dutch win (Roundup) - Jun 25, 2010
- Ghana football mourns death of African stars - May 09, 2012
Tags: africa cup of nations, africa group, african champions, club coach, e team, germany 2006, goal difference, indomitable lions, inter milan, internal strife, italia 90, otto pfister, penalty kick, quarter finalists, top scorer, underachievement, world cup football, world cups, would make sense, yaounde