World Cup Team Profile - Cameroon
Coach: Volker Finke
Captain: Samuel Eto'o (Chelsea)
Full Cameroon Roster
The Road to Rio: Cameroon’s qualification – it would turn out – would be hugely aided by a Togo mistake. Togo fielded Alaixys Romao in their match-up against Cameroon despite the Marseille midfielder having picked up his second yellow card of the group stage in the preceding match between the two nations. His failure to serve the suspension overturned a 2-0 Togo victory, handing Cameroon a 3-0 win that would prove instrumental in both the points and goal-differential categories.
Despite that karmic bounce, Cameroon still needed a pre-playoff game of sorts. The Indomitable Lions needed to pull out a home win in their group stage finale against Libya to top the group. They got the goal they needed – and nothing more – topping Libya 1-0 and ensuring top spot in the group, despite their scoreless draw against the DRC opening the door for Libya to leapfrog them in the final fixture.
Holding Tunisia scoreless in the opening leg of their playoff set up Cameroon nicely for advancement. They would drive the point home with a 4-1 win, accented by a late brace from Rennes midfielder Jean Makoun.
Last World Cup appearance: South Africa 2010 (Group Stage)
First World Cup appearance: Spain 1982 (Group Stage)
Previous World Cup appearances: 6
Best World Cup finish: Quarter-Finals (Italy 1990)
Is Cameroon happy to just be in Brazil? With Togo fielding an ineligible player one of the main reasons for Finke’s Indomitable Lions even being at the World Cup, the appearance alone might be a small victory for Cameroon. It’s a whole different conversation, however, as to whether or not this team has enough to do any more and progress from the group stage, something that Cameroon has only done once – in 1990.
The Indomitable Lions’ biggest strength might be its size, especially down the spine. Finke’s club is full of well-built players like midfielders Alex Song (Barcelona) and Stephane Mbia (Sevilla), who aren’t afraid to impose their will on a game. Pace is not an issue, either, for Cameroon with fitness, critical in some of the hotter temperatures in Brazil, in abundance.
Goal-scoring might be a problem for Cameroon. We are well past the salad days of Samuel Eto’o. Yes, the 33-year-old showed flashes of his trademark skill in his first (and probably last) season at Chelsea, but this is not the same player who terrorized defenders in La Liga and Serie A. With the four-time African Player of the Year in decline, nobody is grabbing the mantle as Cameroon’s go-to guy. Lorient star Vincent Aboubakar has talent to spare and is widely considered one of the finest young prospects in African football, but his chemistry with Eto’o has been lacking, thus far, and the lead-up to the tournament hasn’t suggested that will change any time soon. Barcelona phenom Jean Marie Dongou, a player many view as Eto’o’s successor for Cameroon, wasn’t selected to go to Brazil. If Eto’o or Aboubakar can’t produce, look for Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting (Mainz) to be asked to shoulder some of the offensive load.
With a difficult group and a team in flux, Cameroon’s World Cup will likely end at the group stage. Still, experience gleaned from competing at football’s biggest tournament will be invaluable for the Indomitable Lions going forward.