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.
here for details
|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.
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
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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