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Cameroon

Population: 15,800,000
Area: 475,440 km²
Capital: Yaounde
Language: French, English

 
THE ROAD TO KOREA/JAPAN
Cameroon had little trouble qualifying. They spent the entire campaign in the driving seat of CAF group 1 and won the group in the end by six points.
Click here for details

 
WORLD CUP HISTORY
Participations: (4) 1982, 1990, 1994 and 1998
Best placing: Quarterfinal 1990
Topscorer: Roger Milla, 5 goals
More detailed history information

 
FIRST ROUND MATCHES
Jun 01 - CMR v IRE  in Niigata
Jun 06 - CMR v KSA  in Saitama
Jun 11 - CMR v GER  in Shizuoka

 
ONE TO WATCH
Patrick M'Boma is a powerful forward with a wonderful left foot who can cause problems also with his great aerial strength and athleticism. He has experience from several of the best leagues in Europe and will be a keyman for this team.

 
WCA VERDICT: Through to KO stage
Cameroon have an exciting group of players - probably their best ever. They also have an experienced German coach who has managed to tighten the defence. This mixed with African inventiveness, flair and skill are reasons to why we think they will go through here alongside Germany.



INDOMITABLE LIONS READY TO ROAR FOR REAL


by Peter Goldstein


    The Indomitable Lions are back, with a familiar look and a renewed sense of purpose. They breezed through their qualifying group, becoming the first team to clinch a spot at Korea/Japan. Coach Winfried Schaefer took over the team in September, brought them together in Germany for training, and turned them loose at the African Nations Cup in Mali. They started slow, but still won all three group games; they then gathered momentum, brushed aside the hosts in the semifinals, and held their nerve to win a penalty-kick shootout with Senegal. No doubt about it: they're the class of the continent, and the most dangerous of Africa's five representatives.

    As always, Cameroon goes with a 3-5-2, and the back line looks better than ever. In the center is the huge Raymond Kalla, excellent in the air and on the tackle, and more mobile than you'd expect. The right-back is captain Rigobert Song, agile, powerful, and a commanding presence overall, although he's been known to get caught out of position. In Mali he looked more in control than usual -- remember, this is the man who was red-carded at both USA '94 and France '98. On the left is new find Bill Tchato, who took over when Pierre Njanka was injured. He's cool where Song is hot: always in position, ready for the well-timed tackle.

    The Lions' usual strategy is to attack wide. The right wingback is Geremi Njitap (known as Geremi) of Real Madrid, an outstanding two-way player. He's tough, fast, excellent on the dribble, and inventive in the attacking third. Pierre Wome at left wingback is more defensive, an excellent ball-winner and marker who occasionally comes up to provide a key cross. The big attack man on the left is Salomon Olembe, very fast and direct, and a superb left-footed finisher. On the right is the perfect complement, Lauren Etame-Mayer (known as Lauren): twisty and inventive, with excellent ball skills and vision. The man in the middle is giant Marc-Vivien Foe, a classic all-rounder. He roams the pitch effortlessly, breaking up and starting attacks, sometimes getting forward to let off a shot. His style is so casual that you barely realize he's there, but he's usually one of the key men of the match.

    There are three fine strikers. The veteran is Patrick Mboma, at 31 the oldest man in the lineup, and an important leader on the field and in the clubhouse. Still fast and powerful, he has a tremendous left-footed shot, and is outstanding in the air. His usual partner is 21-year-old Samuel Eto'o Fils (the "Fils" means Junior, and sometimes he's known simply as Eto'o). He combines pace and creativity, and frequently drops deep to help set up play. There's also little Pius Ndieffi, sharp and elusive, with an excellent first touch and quick turn.

    Cameroon is famous for its world-class keepers, but the jury is still out on whether Boukar Alioum is the successor to N'Kono, Bell, and Songo'o. He's got the physical tools, but some feel that despite 40+ caps his technique isn't quite there yet. Schaefer is a strong believer in his ability, and has had him talking with Oliver Kahn in Germany. He was barely challenged at the Nations Cup, and Korea/Japan is likely to make or break his reputation. Jacques Songo'o has had injury problems, but is still available at age 36.

    This looks like Cameroon's best side since 1990, maybe their best ever. They have the classic blend of youth and experience, plus their characteristic skill and power. Temperament, as always, will tell the tale. Arrogant and assured against their African brethren, Cameroon tends to lose control against superior opposition, playing erratically and much too rough. It's no coincidence that the Federation opted for a German coach for Korea/Japan: they feel discipline is the key to success this time around. At the moment the Indomitable Lions are looking every inch their nickname; if they stay that way, look out.



A BRIEF WORLD CUP HISTORY

by Jan Alsos


    Cameroon has participated in four tournaments and is Africaís most successful footballing country based on results in World Cups. Cameroon, along with Algeria, put African football on the world map after some highly creditable performances in Spain 1982. Eventual champions Italy and semifinalists Poland were in Cameroonís first round group, but both failed to beat the Lions who went home undefeated having drawn all their three games. Italy squeezed through on more goals scored.

    It took eight more years until Cameroon qualified again. 1990 was the year for a 38 year old substitute who could have sent Cameroon through in 1982, but had a perfectly good goal disallowed against Peru. Roger Milla showed the world in Italy what he was capable of. After the sensational win over Argentina in the opening match - a match Milla didnít dominate - he turned on the style with two splendid goals against Romania and two more against Colombia before England and two Lineker penalties stopped the Lions in the quarterfinal. The adventure was over, but their legacy lived on. The whole 1990 World Cup is today remembered by most people because of Cameroon.

    Cameroon couldnít reach the heights of 1990 four years later in USA. Soundly beaten by Brazil and thrashed by Russia plus Rigobert Song sent off at barely 17 years of age, gave the Lions little to brag about in America. They had a better team in 1998, but once again a disallowed goal after a controversial decision by the referee - this time against Chile in injurytime of the last match - prevented them from progressing past the group stage.

 

 

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