Cameroon eventually made it to South Africa after a tumultuous qualifying campaign which saw the Indomitable Lions dispense with German Coach Otto Pfister following a lackluster start to the third round of CAF qualification. Pfister was quickly replaced by Frenchman Paul Le Guen, the former Lyon boss negotiating the final four fixtures of the campaign to narrowly guide his team to the World Cup.
Although Cameroon is widely and quite correctly well-respected in the world game, its current crop of talent has failed to impress since an appearance at the final of the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana. The likes of Geremi, Stephane Mbia and Jean Makoun, despite having big reputations in Europe, have flattered to deceive at international level and, as a result, this Cameroonian side has perhaps not reached the levels many expected it to attain. There is certainly enough talent in the squad to compete in the World Cup, but there is much pressure on Le Guen to coax better collective performances from his team this summer if they are to be in with a chance of overcoming Denmark and Japan, their closest group rivals, to progress to a possible last 16 encounter with Italy.
The first of the 20 teams we have covered so far to use a conventional midfield diamond, Le Guen’s Cameroon give themselves something of a defensive insurance policy with Arsenal’s Alex Song, one of Africa’s finest young talents, screening the back four. Song is also used as a platform for counter-attacks, bringing the ball out of defence and playing it to the wide midfielders with Makoun likely to play on the right with the wide left berth very much up for grabs (although Eyong Enoh is perhaps the most credible candidate for the role). Achille Emana, one of the team’s few truly creative players, sits at the head of the diamond feeding the strike partnership of Inter’s Samuel Eto’o, the team’s talisman, and Real Mallorca’s Pierre Webo.
If Le Guen can inject an added passion and urgency into his team, then the Indomitable Lions undoubtedly have the collective abilities to make an impression on this summer’s tournament and battle their way out of a difficult group. However, if the team is gripped by the same malaise which saw it suicidally throw away a winning position in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations in January and almost blow its chances of World Cup qualification, it could be a short and painful tournament for Cameroon.
Probable starting XI: Kameni (Espanyol); Geremi (Ankaragucu), N’koulou (Monaco), Bassong (Tottenham Hotspur), Ekotto (Tottenham Hotspur); Makoun (Lyon), Song (Arsenal), Emana (Real Betis), Eyong (Ajax); Eto’o (Inter), Webo (Real Mallorca)
Road to South Africa: 1st in CAF qualifying third round Group A
World Ranking: 19th
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