Can Cameroon Build on AFCON Success?
History and Background
Cameroon may be the giants of Africa, with up to five African Cup of Nations titles — the second most successful nation in the tournament — and seven appearances in the World Cup — the most from an African team. However, they have failed to replicate that success on the world stage.
Their second ever appearance at the World Cup was a magical one, as they narrowly fell to England in the quarterfinals of the 1990 edition. But apart from that, they have failed to even get out of the group stage in their other six appearances.
Their record at the last two World Cups was embarrassing for a side that was filled with so much talent. In 2010, despite having the likes of Samuel Eto’o, Stéphane Mbia, Carlos Kameni, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Rigobert Song and Geremi — they lost all three matches and were the first team to be eliminated from the tournament. What’s worse was the the World Cup was held on their own continent, yet they failed to even put in a decent performance.
If that wasn’t so bad, they took their horrible record at the tournament to a whole new level in 2014. They again suffered defeats in all three matches, and had a goal difference of -8. It was filled with controversial moments as well, with Alex Song being sent off for elbowing Mario Mandzukic in the 4-0 defeat to Croatia and Assou-Ekotto head butting his own teammate Benjamin Moukandjo — which saw both players sent home early.
Due to their poor performances in the last six years, the new Cameroon boss Hugo Broos opted to leave out many star players in the 2017 African Cup of Nations. With a largely unexperienced squad, the Belgian led the Lions to unexpected glory in the tournament — thus qualifying to the upcoming Confederations Cup.
Cameroon, similarly to Mexico, has gone through so many managers in recent years. Worse than El Tri, which has appointed nine coaches in 12 years — the Lions have had 12 coaches in the last 12 years. That’s basically changing coaches every year from the African nation.
After sacking Volker Finke for failing to get them out of the group stage of the 2015 African Cup of Nations and horrible performances in friendlies, Alexandre Belinga was given the job as an interim manager while the federation searched for a new coach through online advertising. They finally brought in Broos in February of 2016, after the Belgian followed up through the advertisement and applied for the job.
The 65-year-old is an experienced manager, but his resume is far from looking impressive. He coached up to 11 clubs in 27 years before taking over the African side, which shows he never really lasted long in one place. Despite his long career, he has never coached a national team and the biggest side he took charge was Anderlecht of the Belgian League.
Being a largely unknown name in modern football, his appointment has failed to impress a lot of fans. The skepticism grew due to his squad selection for the African Cup of Nations, which featured no star players except for Vincent Aboubakar and Nicolas Nkoulou.
However, he has somehow led his largely unknown side to become the African champions, an impressive feat for the side that was starving for success.
Similarly to their African Cup-winning squad, Broos’ side for the Confederations Cup lacks many big-name players — with notable omissions such as Kameni of Malaga, former Arsenal and Barcelona player Alex Song, Joel Matip of Liverpool, Allan Nyom of West Brom, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting of Schalke and Nkolou, who scored the opening goal in the final of the African Cup.
Many of the players will be unknown on the global stage, with six of them from the Eastern European leagues, two from the Spanish second division and one from Major League Soccer. An obvious standout name is Aboubakar, who had a good season with Besiktas scoring 12 goals in 27 matches.
Benjamin Moukandjo and Georges Mandjeck will also be key players for the side with the midfield pair, who both ply their trade in France, expected to provide a veteran presence in the dressing room. Apart from those three though, there is very little individual talent in the squad. Cameroon fans will be hoping their team can click like they did in Gabon earlier this year and scrape past opponents.
Based on the squad selection, there are very few reasons to be excited about this Cameroon team. However, based on their history, the Central African nation actually performs better with star players and egos in the dressing room. This team will be based on unity and will work hard with each other to prove something to the world.
Their recent friendly results have been far from impressive, with the Lions suffering a 4-0 beat down against Colombia and a 2-1 loss to Guinea. Broos’ men, though, seem to step up a notch when playing an official match and their 1-0 win over Morocco during the African Cup of Nations qualifiers is a proof of that.
Although they are capable of producing shock results, they individually are nowhere near good enough compared to Chile and Germany. Given their poor record on the world stage, Cameroon will likely finish dead last in the group.
6/18 — Cameroon vs Chile
6/22 — Cameroon vs Australia
6/25 — Cameroon vs Germany