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Posts Tagged ‘Cameroon’

Expanded Elite One Kicks off in Cameroon

The new football league season kicked off in Cameroon this weekend with the first round of fixtures in the newly expanded Elite One, the country’s top division. Five teams have been added to the fourteen who competed in last season’s edition, taking the total up to nineteen. The newcomers are UMS de Loum, Bamboutos de Mbouda, Scorpion, Apejes De Mfou and Cosmos de Bafia. The expansion meant that last season’s bottom three, Sable, Tonnerre Kalara Club De Yaounde and Panthere Sportive Du Nde were all saved from relegation.

Reigning champions Coton Sport travelled to newcomers Bamboutos de Mbouda and were held to a goalless draw on Saturday. The opening game of the season had seen Unisport de Bafang win 1-0 away at Les Astres earlier in the day, but they were soon joined on three points at the top of the nascent Elite One table by Apejes De Mfou, Panthere, Njala Quan Sports Academy and New Star De Douala.

Sunday’s pair of fixtures saw Union Sportive of Douala become outright leaders on goal difference courtesy of their 3-0 home win against Scorpion and newly promoted Cosmos De Bafia earned an impressive debut win away at Canon Sportif of Yaounde. The second round of fixtures is on Tuesday this week.

World Cup 2010 Review: Cameroon

Cameroon were perhaps the most disappointing of a generally disappointing bunch of African teams at World Cup 2010. With a star studded squad they were hopeful of at least qualifying from the group stage on their home continent but they couldn’t live up to expectations and exited with a dismal three defeats from three games.

They gave a subdued performance in their opening match against Japan and went down 1-0, losing out to a Honda goal in the 39th minute. A tenth minute strike from captain Samuel Eto’o gave them an early lead in the second game, against Denmark, but they were unlucky to come up against a vintage Danish performance and two great goals that turned the tie around. They couldn’t convert any of several chances they created late on and succumbed to a 2-1 defeat that ended their interest in the tournament.

Playing for pride against the Netherlands in their final game, they produced a decent performance but found themselves a goal down at half time. Samuel Eto’o lead the fightback, in perhaps his last World Cup finals, with a penalty in the 65th minute but the Indomitable Lions couldn’t hold on for a point and again lost 2-1 following Huntelaar’s late winner.

Paul Le Guen’s team ended up bottom of Group E with no points and only two goals from their three games. They weren’t outclassed in a difficult group, losing only by a single goal on each occasion, but they have plenty of work to do to improve on their general team play. With some of the established players getting on in terms of years, it could be the end of an era for Cameroonian football.

The Cameroonian squad submitted to FIFA was as follows:

NUMBER – POSITION – NAME – AGE- CLUB

1 – GK – Idriss KAMENI – 26 – Espanyol
16 – GK – Souleymanou HAMIDOU – 36 – Kayserispor
22 – GK – Guy NDY – 24 – Valenciennes
2 – DF – Benoit ASSOU-EKOTTO – 26 – Tottenham Hotspur
3 – DF – Nicolas NKOULOU – 20 – Monaco
4 – DF – Rigobert SONG – 33 – Trabzonspor
5 – DF – Sebastien BASSONG – 23 – Tottenham Hotspur
8 – DF – GEREMI – 31 – Ankaragucu
12 – DF – Gaetan BONG – 22 – Valenciennes
14 – DF – Aurelien CHEDJOU – 24 – Lille
19 – DF – Stephane MBIA – 24 – Marseille
6 – MF – Alexandre SONG – 22 – Arsenal
7 – MF – Landry NGUEMO – 24 – Celtic
11 – MF – Jean MAKOUN – 27 – Lyon
18 – MF – Eyong ENOH – 24 – Ajax
20 – MF – Georges MANDJECK – 21 – Kaiserslautern
21 – MF – Joel MATIP – 18 – Schalke 04
9 – FW – Samuel ETOO – 29 – Inter
10 – FW – Achille EMANA – 28 – Betis Sevilla
13 – FW – Eric CHOUPO MOTING – 21 – Nuremberg
15 – FW – Pierre WEBO – 28 – Mallorca
17 – FW – Mohamadou IDRISSOU – 30 – SC Freiburg
23 – FW – Vincent ABOUBAKAR – 18 – Coton Sport

World Cup 2010 Warm Up: Portugal 3-1 Cameroon

Portugal recovered from an embarrassing 0-0 draw with Cape Verde in Covilha eight days ago to restore some pride with a 3-1 win at the same venue over fellow World Cup contenders Cameroon, whose own preparations for the finals are not going according to plan.

 The match came alive in the 32nd minute when FC Porto’s Raul Meireles broke the deadlock. His goal was quickly followed by the dismissal of Cameroon’s star player Samuel Eto’o, who had only just returned to the side following his Champions League win with Internazionale. He picked up two yellow cards in quick succession and received his marching orders. However, his team mates stuck to the task admirably and held on until half time without any further goals at either end. Midfielder Meireles struck again at the start of the second half as Portugal began to exploit the space created by the extra man. However, Cameroon introduced N’Guemo, Idrissou and Webo mid way through the second half and the fresh legs gave them a new impetus. It was Real Mallorca’s Pierre Webo who reduced the deficit in the 69th minute and suddenly had Portugal worried. In the event, the Portuguese managed to snuff out the threat of a comeback and made the game safe with a third goal from substitute Nani, who had replaced Simao at half time.

Next up for Portugal is the long anticipated trip to South Africa and a final friendly against Mozambique in Johannesburg on the 8th of June before they take on the Ivory Coast in their opening Group G fixture in Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth on the 15th of June.

Cameroon have now played three warm up fixtures without registering a victory and have a final chance to get it right against Serbia in Belgrade on the 5th of June before they do it for real against Japan in Mangaung/Bloemfontein on the 14th of June.

Portugal 3-1 Cameroon (01/06/2010)

Starting Line-ups:

Portugal:
Eduardo
Alves
Carvalho
Duda
Ferreira
Mendes
Meireles
Deco
Simao
Liedson
Ronaldo

Substitutions:
45 Danny for Liedson
45 Miguel for Ferreira
45 Nani for Simao
63 Coentrao for Duda
64 Rolando for Alves
73 Costa for Mendes

Cameroon:
Kameni
Mbia
Nkoulou
Assou-Ekotto
Mandjeck
Song
Enoh
Makoun
Emana
Choupo-Moting
Eto’o

Substitutions:
62 Webo for Song
62 Idrissou for Choupo-Moting
63 N`Guemo for Emana
78 Bong for Makoun

Goals:
Meireles (32)
Meireles (46)
Webo (69)
Nani (81)

Sending Off:
Eto’o (33)

World Cup 2010 Warm Up: Slovakia 1-1 Cameroon

Slovakia and Cameroon stepped up their World Cup preparations with a 1-1 draw in a friendly match at the Wörthersee Stadion in Klagenfurt, Austria. About 8,000 fans turned up to see Cameroon’s late fight back in a match largely dominated by the Europeans.

The Slovaks took an early lead, with Spartak Trnava’s Kamil Kopunek firing home from just outside the box, having been supplied by Miroslav Stoch, the Chelsea youngster who spent last season on loan at Steve McLaren’s title winning Twente side. However, Slovakia couldn’t find a way to turn their possession into further goals and the scoreline remained unchanged until the 83rd minute when Ajax’s Enoh Eyong levelled for Cameroon.

Cameroon played the game without star striker Samuel Eto’o, who was rested following his Champions League win with Inter last weekend. The Cameroon captain is rumoured to be unhappy with criticism he received from Roger Milla and may even be considering boycotting the national team. Coach Paul Le Guen will be crossing his fingers that the issue is soon resolved.

There was some bad news for Slovakia on the player front, as midfielder Miroslav Karhan has had to withdraw from the squad through injury. The Mainz player has a torn achilles tendon and will not recover in time for the finals. Slovakia will complete their World Cup preparations on the 5th of June against Costa Rica, ten days before they are due to play New Zealand in Rustenburg in their first Group F fixture.

Cameroon are struggling for firepower at the moment, having been held to a goalless draw with Georgia last week. They continue their preparations with a match against Portugal on the 1st of June and a final friendly against Serbia on the 5th. Their first World Cup fixture is on the 14th of June against Japan in Mangaung / Bloemfontein.

Slovakia 1-1 Cameroon (29/05/2010)

Starting Line-ups:

Slovakia:
Kuciak
Durica
Cech
Skrtel
Pekarik
Kozak
Kopunek
Hamsik
Stoch
Kucka
Jendrisek

Substitutions:
46 Svento for Kozak
46 Sestak for Stoch
46 Weiss for Jendrisek
77 Zabavnik for Kucka
85 Pernis for Kuciak
88 Jakubko for Pekarik

Cameroon:
Tignyemb
Assou-Ekotto
Song
Bassong
N’Koulou
Makoun
Emana
Enoh
Chedjou Fongang
Webo
Aboubakar

Substitutions:
46 Mandjeck for Makoun
67 Geremi for Chedjou Fongang
67 Ndjeng for Aboubakar
73 Dorge Kouemaha for Emana
85 Matip for Song

Goals:
Kopunek (5)
Enoh (83)

African Cup of Nations 2010: Egypt 3-1Cameroon – Defensive errors dominate as Egypt ease through in extra-time

 
 

Veteran Ahmed Hassan was the match winner for Egypt against Cameroon

Kick-off: Monday, January 25th, 16.00 GMT

Location: Complexo da Sr. Da Graca, Benguela, Angola

Egypt: 3 A Hassan (37 & 95), Geddo (92)

Cameroon: 1 A Hasan (og, 26)

TEAMS

Egypt: El Hadary – Mohamady, Goma’a, Fathalla, Moawad – A Hassan, Fathi, Said, Hosni – Zidan, Moateb

Cameroon: Kameni – Geremi, N’Koulou, Chedjou, Bedimo – Song, Mandjeck, Eyong – Emana, Eto’o, Idrissou

The third quarter-final at the 2010 African Cup of Nations pitted Group C winners Egypt against Group D runners-up Cameroon in a repeat of the final from two years ago in which the Pharaohs’ ran out 1-0 winners. 

It was a game that ebbed and flowed, and both sides had their chances to claim the spoils both within normal time and extra-time.  However, it was defensive errors that ruled the game and decisively altered the outcome of the game, with those from Cameroon proving more costly at the start of extra-time.

Egypt having cruised through qualification had rested numerous players in their final group match against Benin and made several changes to that starting XI.  Cameroon had gone through all sorts of agonies to get to this stage, but the team that took to the pitch was similar to the one that claimed a draw against Tunisia in their final match, although still posted three amendments. 

A cagey start to the game with neither side too eager to attack in the early stages saw Cameroon force a sequence of corners, which eventually resulted in a long-range effort from recent Newcastle departure Geremi.  The right-back collected the ball, but despite catching the effort on the full with his left-foot the attempt looped over the Egyptian goal. 

It took Egypt until past the halfway point of the first-half to register a noteworthy attempt on goal.  Mohamed Zidan curled a good free-kick into the Cameroon box, and with the Indomitable Lions back-line rooted to the spot left-back, Ahmed Al-Mohamady dived onto the header.  However, Cameroon were given a huge let-off when he diverted the effort wide of the target.

Moments later and Cameroon made Egypt doubly rue their missed chance when they took the lead in most bizarre fashion.  Achille Emana, who had taken a number of short in-swinging corners from the Cameroon left side, dropped one onto Ahmed Hassan’s head at the near post.  The veteran Egyptian playmaker somehow managed to deflect the ball off the back of his head and into his own net to give Cameroon the advantage with 25 minutes played.

Egypt take control

The defending champions of the African Cup of Nations had an almost immediate reply to the Cameroon goal.  A poor tackle by Samuel Eto’o, which should have been punished with at least a booking, was taken quickly on the halfway line by Egypt.  Forward Emad Moateb reached quickest to the pass through, nicking it round Cameroon goalkeeper Carlos Kameni, but was unable to steady himself for the shot thanks to the pressure from Alexandre Song.

On 35 minutes veteran Egyptian midfielder Ahmed Hassan in his 170th appearance in the national shirt found redemption for his own goal ten minutes earlier with a long-range speculative effort from at least 35 yards out to equalise.  Hassan let fly with a diagonal shot that seemed to deceive Kameni in the Cameroon goal.  The Espanyol-keeper just didn’t get across his line quick enough to stop the effort, and somehow the ball sneaked past him and in at the far post to make it 1-1.

The second half could have started brilliantly for Egypt but Moateb wasted a good chance chance.  What amounted to little more than a hopeful punt down the middle from goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary was seized upon by Moateb when Cameroon defender Aurelien Chedjou almost fatally let the ball bounce.  Moateb was onto the loose ball in a flash, but a combination of Kameni and Chedjou managed to smother the chance.

A minute later and Zidan could have snatched the lead twice within two minutes for Egypt.  First he picked up a pass down the left-hand channel and took the shot early which missed the goal at the near post when he could have advanced further before taking aim.  Then just seconds later the Borussia Dortmund-forward dispossessed Chedjou just outside the Cameroon penalty area.  Fortunately for Cameroon, Kameni was alert to the danger and managed to block the shot at his near post.

Cameroon find their feet

For all the early Egyptian pressure in the first ten minutes of the second half, Cameroon also could have retaken the lead on 55 minutes.  A run from midfielder Georges Mandjeck was not tracked by Egypt, and the Kaiserslautern player sent a low spinning shot narrowly wide of the near post.

Just before the hour mark Eyong Enoh had another good sight of the Egyptian target from midfield when he picked up the ball in space through the middle.  The Ajax-midfielder lashed another effort just over the target, as Cameroon started to come out of their shell after weathering something of an Egyptian barrage in the opening minutes of the second half. 

Cameroon continued to test El-Hadary in the Egyptian goal from long range when Geremi side footed a powerful free-kick into his arms on the 70 minute-mark.  On 78 minutes Cameroon danger-man Samuel Eto’o had his first shot on target in anger, again from outside the penalty area.  The Inter Milan-striker lashed an effort towards goal, which bounced up into El-Hadary’s body for a comfortable save. 

It was all one-way traffic for Cameroon, and Samuel Eto’o once again tested his luck from long range.  Mohammadou Idrissou advanced down the left flank before cutting it back for Eto’o, however, the former Barcelona-man lashed an effort over the bar. 

Despite looking like it was going to be Cameroon to claim a late winner, Egypt showed they took still possessed a threat when a raking diagonal pass found Moateb through the left-hand channel.  However Cameroon had a huge let off, when the Egyptian forward could only find the side-netting with a shot at the near post, when arguably he should have gone across the goal with his attempt.

Ahmed Hassan could have been a late match winner for Egypt too, when he had a speculative effort which flew over the Cameroonian goal with two minutes already played in additional time but that was to be the final action in normal time and the game went to extra-time.

Egypt explode in extra-time

Having finished the second half in the ascendancy Cameroon started extra-time brightly when substitute Pierre Webo drove a shot in, which was comfortably claimed.  However, it was Egypt who snatched the lead in the game with barely a minute played following the restart.  Geremi played a suicidal back-pass towards Kameni, which he left horribly short, and midfielder Geddo nipped in to pinch the ball and slot it home between the goalkeeper’s legs to make it 2-1.

Egypt had their third and Ahmed Hassan his second goal just moments later in controversial circumstances for 3-1.  Hassan smashed in a free-kick from the Egyptian left, which Kameni in the Cameroon goal crucially attempted to punch.  The ball reared up, cannoned off the underside of the bar and bounced down.  Replays showed the ball wasn’t even close to going over the line, but the goal stood after the assistant on the nearside gave it as a goal.

Whilst Cameroon will feel hard done by given the fact that the third goal should never have stood, both Egyptian efforts in extra-time could ultimately be put down to shocking defensive errors on the part of the Indomitable Lions.

Samuel Eto’o nearly went close to reducing arrears on 98 minutes when a corner-kick from the left, which was from the same side from which they had scored in the first half, just evaded the outstretched boot of the Cameroon forward.

Cameroon started to press with increasing desperation, and an Idrissou shot was deflected inches wide of the post.  However, their task was made immeasurably harder when a long clearing punt was missed by Cameroon defender Chedjou.  The Lens-player suddenly realising that Geddo had got in front of him to win the ball clean through on goal, decided to drag the Egyptian striker down, and inevitably saw a red card for his transgression. 

The reduction to ten-men cost Cameroon any further chance of troubling Egypt, and it finished 3-1.  Cameroon have arguably not got into their stride for the entire tournament, although they improved as it wore on, and this was denfitely their best performance out of the four games. 

Egypt can thank a lucky decision for a crucial third to give them a two-goal cushion and turn the game their way after absorbing a lot of pressure.  They are through to the semis and the dream of three consecutive victories at the African Cup of Nations remains alive.

African Cup of Nations 2010: Cameroon 2-2 Tunisia – Second half recovery sees Indomitable Lions through

 Kick-off: Thursday, January 21, 16.00 GMT

Location: Estadio Alto da Chela, Lubango

Cameroon Eto’o (47), N’Guemo (64)

Tunisia Chermiti (1), Chedjou (o.g 63)

TEAMS

 Cameroon: Kameni – Binya, Chedjou, N’Koulou, Mandjeck – Song, Eyong, Makoun – Eto’o, Idrissou, N’Guemo

 Tunisia: Mathlouti – Souissi, Haggui, Jemal, Mikari – Raggued, Nafkha – Dhaouadhi, Korbi, Jema’a – Chermiti

An improved second half performance from Cameroon saw them over-turn a first-half deficit to snatch a 2-2 draw to squeeze through to the quarter finals at the 2010 African Cup of Nations.   It was hardly the most convincing performance, but it just about enough to guarantee progression in second place in the group.

The match kicked off with the two bigger sides in the pool effectively playing off against each other for a place in the group stages with the winner guaranteeing progression, whilst the looser could only contemplate a return home. 

Cameroon made six changes from the side that struggled past Zambia at the weekend with the most high profile casualties being veterans Rigobert Song and Geremi in the defence.  Samuel Eto’o continued his wider role from the right flank, rather than his more accustomed central role.

Tunisia boss Faouzi Benzarti restricted himself to just two changes in comparison to the starting line-up that drew 0-0 against Gabon at the weekend.  Mohamed Ali Nafkha took the place of Souheil Ben Radhia, whilst Youssef Msakni made way for Khaled Soussi.  The latter change was to have almost an immediate effect for Tunisia.  Straight from the kick-off Tunisia caught Cameroon napping when Souissi surged down the right flank.  The Club Africain defender whipped in a wonderful cross, which was met by a stooping header from striker Amine Chermiti to divert the ball into the back of the Cameroon net to make it 0-1.

The opening phase of play was alas not a taste of further excitement in the game to come.  Although Cameroon dominated possession, they seldom looked like creating a chance.  Tunisia were content to sit back and let their more illustrious opponents have the ball and soak up pressure safe with their lead intact.  The game certainly didn’t seem like it pitted the best ranked African side in the FIFA rankings in the form of Cameroon against Tunisia, a side who had qualified for three of the last four World Cups.

Guaranteed Narcolepsy cure…

After 30 minutes of lacklustre play, Tunisia were lucky to avoid going down to ten-men, when Aymen Mathlouti, Tunisian goalkeeper, clearly handled the ball outside his penalty area.  Having been rashly tempted out of his area, Samuel Eto’o attempted to lift a shot over Mathlouti.  However, the keeper stuck his hand out to stop the ball, and also what looked like a shot on target.  The referee though issued only a yellow card and the free-kick just outside the box from which Samuel Eto’o placed an effort just wide of the far post. 

Remarkably having soaked up pressure for nearly the entire half, Tunisia broke forward on 44 minutes as Hocine Ragued slipped a neat pass through the middle to left-back Yassin Mikari, who had rang across the line to pop up on the right side.  However, having been forced wide as he broke clear, Mikari could hit only the side netting at the near post with his shot despite support from Armine Chermiti in the middle.

Deja-vu?

The second half started in similar fashion to the first with an early goal on 47 minutes, this time for Cameroon as they paid Tunisia back for their fast start.  A pass was slipped through to Pierre Webo, having arrived on the pitch as a half-time substitute, who cut the ball back from the by-line to the lurking Samuel Eto’o.  The Inter Milan forward rather scuffed his shot, but it had just enough direction to bounce in off the far post to make it 1-1.

The equalising goal seemed to spark Tunisia and an immediate response was forthcoming when Zouheir Dhaouadhi squared a ball across the face of the Cameroon goal when he could have taken the shot on himself.

Goal-scorer Samuel Eto’o could have taken the lead for the Indomitable Lions when left-back Georges Mandjeck curled a cross into the box to find the former Barcelona striker in acres of space.  However, Eto’o slightly mistimed his jump and the effort came off the top of his head which looped the ball up and wide.

The second half continued in exciting fashion on 55 minutes when Dhaouadhi scrambled clear down the left side to swing a ball into the near post.  With Chermiti closing in on the pass, Carlos Kameni in the Cameroon goal did brilliantly to bravely block the ball away from danger.

Tunisia fail to profit from Cameroon disaster

 

Cameroon continued to surge forward, and looked the more likely to create the third goal in the game.  However, it was Tunisia who once again surprised.  Substitute Chaouki Ben Saada lofted a ball into the penalty area hopefully where centre-back Aurelien Chedjou headed the ball up and over the advancing Carlos Kameni for a terrible own goal to make it 1-2..

Paul le Guen’s side though immediately hit back for the equalising goal after the best move of the match so far.  Mohammodou Idrissou raided down the right flank, cut the ball back to Pierre Webo who teed up Celtic midfielder Landry N’Guemo to smash the ball home from the edge of the penalty area for 2-2.

On 80 minutes Samuel Eto’o and Pierre Webo nearly combined for Cameroon’s third goal of the game.  Eto’o shifted the ball across to Webo, who curled a shot just wide of the far post with Mathlouti diving across, but relieved to see the ball drift just wide of the target.

Tunisia could have forced a winner which would take them through on 87 minutes when Karim Haggui got on the end of a free-kick into the box.  However, the Hannover centre-back looped his header over the bar.  The Tunisian task was made even harder when Haggui’s centre-back colleague Ammar Jemal saw red for his second yellow card.  After picking up his first for a lunge earlier in the half, he foolishly pushed Samuel Eto’o.  It was barely anything more than a slight shove, but the referee’s assistant drew the referee’s attention to the infringement and Jemal was dismissed. 

Tunsia were unable to force another chance and despite turning in their best performance of the tournament, ended up exiting at the group-stage.  Cameroon also produced their best performance of the 2010 African Cup of Nations, but it won’t have got quarter—final opponents Nigeria too concerned.  Le Guen’s side will need to improve significantly if they are to prevent the Super Eagles from soaring into the semi-finals.

African Cup of Nations 2010: Cameroon – Tunisia Preview

Tunisia Fans

Tunisa fans will be expecting a nervy game

Kick-Off: Thursday January 21st, 16.00 GMT

Location: Estadio Alto da Chela, Lubango

This is set to be a fascinating encounter with Tunisia requiring a win to take them through, Cameroon need onyl a draw to progress.

The Tunisian’s having drawn against Gabon and Zambia on the back of a disappointing failure to qualify for the World Cup will not be feeling overly confident heading into the game against Cameroon. The Indomitable Lions themselves are not exactly firing on all cylinders, defeat to Gabon and a lucky victory against Zambia thanks to some shocking goalkeeping doesn’t make for much to write home about. They have one of the most talented and recognisable squads but there are big questions marks over the likes of Rigobert Song who seems to be making blunder after blunder.

Form Guide

Cameroon

17/01/10 – Zambia (n) 3-2 (2010 African Cup of Nations, Group D)

13/01/10 – Gabon (n) 0-1 (2010 African Cup of Nations, Group D)

09/01/10 – Kenya (a) 1-3 (International Friendly)

14/11/09 – Morocco (a) 0-2 (FIFA World Cup Qualifier)

14/10/09 – Angola (a) 0-0 (International Friendly)

10/10/09 – Togo (h) 3-0 (FIFA World Cup Qualifier)

Tunisia

12-08-2009  Tunisia 0-0 Ivory Coast (Friendly)

06-09-2009  Nigeria 2-2 Tunisia (WC Qualifying)

11-10-2009  Tunisia 1-0 Kenya (WC Qualifying)

14-10-2009  Tunisia 0-1 Saudi Arabia (Friendly)

14-11-2009  Mozambique 1-0 Tunisia (WC Qualifying)

09-01-2010  Tunisia 1-2 Gambia (Friendly)

13-01-2010  Zambia 1-1 Tunisia (ACN Group D)

17-01-2010  Gabon 0-0 Tunisia (ACN Group D)

Team News

Cameroon

The big question mark is over the fitness of African Cup of Nations record scorer Samuel Eto’o who missed training yesterday after limping out of the Zambia match. There is a suggestion that Le Guen may drop Alex Song into the back four to shore things up and play a more offensive central midfield player in his place.

Tunisia

Tunisia are missing some key players in Oussema Darragi (injured), Youssef Msakni (injured) and Souheil Berradhia (suspended). It’ll be interesting to see if their squad has the depth to deal with such loses.

Player to Watch

Cameroon

With Cameroon needing a draw a lot will be expected of Alex Song whether he’s shielding the back four or playing in it, a big performance from him today could be cruitial.

Tunisia

With the likes of Eto’o set to terrorise the Tunisian defense our man to watch is Hannover’s Karim Haggui.

Prediction

I expect a tight afair but when Tunisia try to come out Cameroon will punish them and keep their first cleansheet in a long time.

Cameroon 2-0 Tunisia

2010 African Cup of Nations: Cameroon 3-2 Zambia

Kick-off: Sunday, January 17, 18:30 GMT

Location: Estadio Alto da Chela, Lubango

Cameroon 3: Njitap (68), Eto’o (72), Idrissou (86)
Zambia 2: Mulenga (8), C Katongo (82 pen)

TEAMS

Cameroon: Kameni, Njitap, N’Koulou, R Song, Bedimo (Binya 45), A Song, M’Bia, Makoun, Emana (Chedjou 76), Tchoyi (Idrissou 45), Eto’o
Zambia: Mweene, Mbola, Kampamba, Sunza, Musonda (Mayuka 77), Nyirenda, F Katongo (Chansa 62), C Katongo, Kalaba (Kasonde 53), Chamanga, Mulenga

Cameroon came from behind to win a thrilling encounter in Lubango by the odd goal in five and revive their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages of the African Cup of Nations. They move second in Group D, a point behind leaders Gabon whereas Zambia are now bottom of the pool although they also have a realistic chance of qualification if they can beat Gabon in their final match.

Zambia took the lead early on, scoring from their first dangerous attack, and maintained their advantage for almost an hour. The opening goal came in the tenth minute when Cameroon captain Rigobert Song headed a cross straight at his own goalkeeper Carlos Kameni. With no time to react, the pair were helpless as  FC Utrecht striker Jacob Mulenga slotted in the rebound. Cameroon’s best chance of the first half was a shot from Makoun that forced a smart save out of Zambian ‘keeper Mweene. Zambia threatened again with a free-kick and rebound seven minutes before the interval but found Kameni in fine form and the teams returned to the dressing rooms at 1-0 with Cameroon’s future in the tournament hanging in the balance.

Paul Le Guen made two changes at half time, bringing on Idrissou and Binya for Tchoyi and Bedimo and the Indomitable Lions went in search of the equaliser, but plan B didn’t yield any immediate dividends as the Zambian defence continued to hold firm. Indeed, Zambia had another good chance to score in the 63rd minute when Mulenga, free in the box, was unable to direct a free kick past Kameni. That missed opportunity was to prove costly as Cameroon were gifted an equaliser minutes later. It was a real freak goal, an aimless punt forwards by Geremi Njitap that Zambia goalkeeper Mweene should have dealt with easily but instead let slip under his body and into the net.

Suddenly Cameroon were awake and up for the fight and in Samuel Eto’o they have a striker who often only needs half a chance to score a goal. When an opportunity finally came his way, just four minutes after the equaliser, he confidently lashed it into the corner to complete the turnaround. But Cameroon weren’t in the mod to make things easy for themselves today and Zambia were granted a lifeline with ten minutes to go when Carlos Kameni brought down Mulenga to concede a penalty, which Chris Katongo converted to level the scores again. Cameroon pushed forwards relentlessly seeking a winner and eventually their quality showed through with another long ball from Geremi being headed home by substitute Idrissou five minutes from time.

African Cup of Nations 2010: Cameroon – Zambia Preview

Inter Milan's forward Samuel Eto'o will need to be at his best against Zambia

Kick-Off: Sunday January 17, 18.30 GMT

Location: Estadio Alto da Chela, Lubango

Cameroon will be targeting a win to bounce back from their shock opening-day defeat to outsiders Gabon, and know they can’t afford to turn in another sloppy performance against Zambia, who showed that they have some potential in their draw against Tunisia.

In what has been an African Cup of Nations of shocks, the defeat of Cameroon by little-fancied Gabon was arguably the biggest of them all thus far.  Cameroon stuttered and spluttered their way to the loss against a better organised and more resilient Gabon that they had previously encountered.

Having cruised to two wins in the qualifying section over the same opposition, there appeared to be an air of complacency in the approach of the Indomitable Lions against Gabon when the pair met on Wednesday.  That resulted in a rather lacklustre performance, especially in attack where after starting brightly a number of their main attacking players faded.

Apportioning blame

The most obvious target for criticism will have been captain and star forward Samuel Eto’o.  The Inter Milan striker struggled to make any impact for Paul le Guen’s side in a 4-3-3 formation, only seldom occupying his preferred central position and being encouraged to drift to the flanks.  From a wider area, Eto’o was unable to do anything to trouble the well-organised Gabonese defence, who looked unflustered and in control for the entire game.

Indeed the Cameroon performance against an opposition they have shown they are quite capable of defeating must have reminded both Glasgow Rangers and PSG fans of the time le Guen, the current Cameroon boss, spent at both Ibrox and the Parc des Princes.  There, his sides often struggled to break down well-drilled opposition despite possessing an abundance of attacking talent.

In the run up to the Gabon loss, Samuel Eto’o praised the influence of le Guen, who arrived before the first qualifying match against The Black Panthers last September, but the Frenchman now has to show that he has the tactical know-how to help his side overcome Zambia.  A defeat would rule Cameroon out of qualifying for the knock-out stages of the 2010 African Cup of Nations, whilst a draw would probably take their destiny out of their own hands.  Therefore a strong performance, and above all victory, is imperative in this second-round encounter against Zambia.

Better than expected

Whilst Cameroon were an immense disappointment in their opening fixture, the same can’t be said for Zambia, who opened their tournament against Tunisia. The Zambians arrived at the 2010 African Cup of Nations in something of a mess with internal disputes and disciplinary issues being played out in the local media whilst the fans clamoured for a win they thought their side was capable of achieving.

However, their first half performance was excellent against Tunisia, forcing the Eagles of Carthage onto the back-foot from the opening exchanges, and suggesting that whatever malaise the team had been suffering from had been left in the dressing room.

The attacking play in particular between James Chamanga and Jacob Mulenga, the latter tipped as one to watch during this tournament, was a joy to behold, and they will be hoping they can turn on the style against Cameroon’s brittle defence comprised of veteran Rigobert Song and youngster Nicolas N’Koulou.

In the second half, Zambia were unable to keep their tempo up, and the Tunisians also significantly improved, but the 1-1 draw from the opening match left the Zambians handily placed, and also above Cameroon coming into this clash, something no-one could have predicted. 

 Long-term ramifications

This match therefore will have plenty riding on it, and could go a long way to determining the long-term futures of both managers.  A win for Zambia combined with a defeat for Cameroon and all the disappointment of the failure to be a factor in World Cup qualifying will be forgotten about, whilst Paul le Guen can probably forget about leading Cameroon out in their opening match at the World Cup in the summer. 

Form Guide

Cameroon

13/01/10 – Gabon (n) 0-1 (2010 African Cup of Nations, Group D)

09/01/10 – Kenya (a) 1-3 (International Friendly)

14/11/09 – Morocco (a) 0-2 (FIFA World Cup Qualifier)

 14/10/09 – Angola (a) 0-0 (International Friendly)

10/10/09 – Togo (h) 3-0 (FIFA World Cup Qualifier)

Zambia

13/01/10 – Tunisia (n) 1-1 (2010 African Cup of Nations, Group D)

09/01/10 – South Korea (n) 4-2 (International Friendly)

28/12/09 – Mozambique (h) 1-0 (International Friendly)

09/12/09 – Zanzibar (n) 0-0 (2009 CECAFA Cup, Quarter Finals)

04/12/09 – Djibouti (n) 0-6 (2009 CECAFA Cup, Group A)

02/12/09 – Ethiopia (n) 1-0 (2009 CECAFA Cup, Group A)

Team News

Cameroon

It would be no surprise to see Paul le Guen make several changes to the side that started against Gabon in that shock loss.  Main candidates for the chop could be Achille Emana and Pierrre Webo, both of whom had poor games in attack against Gabon. 

The midfield may also come under some scrutiny, as le Guen needs to question whether fielding both Jean Makoun and Landry N’Guemo is strictly necessary as holding midfielders.  With the energetic Alexandre Song potentialy taking up one of the deeper positions, that would free up space to inject some much needed creativity into the side from midfield. 

Marseille’s Stephane M’Bia missed the opening game due to injury, and if he is fit enough he is also likely to come into the side regardless of the tactical changes that le Guen makes.

Zambia

After their strong opening performance against Tunisia, Zambia are unlikely to make major changes to the way their team lines up against Cameroon.  However, they may ask forward Jacob Mulenga to sit slightly deeper if they come under heavy pressure in the early stages, and exploit spaces in the wide areas as they become apparent. 

Player to Watch

Cameroon

There will need to be some fairly significant improvements to the team for this second match, and Samuel Eto’o will need to lead by example against Zambia.  He struggled to get into the game against Gabon, but needs to impose his quality onto this game.  The Zambian defence looked light at times against Tunisia, and if given enough service, Eto’o can ignite Cameroon’s 2010 African Cup of Nations. 

Zambia

Portuguese-based Rainford Kalaba  had a lively opening match for Zambia against Tunisia, missing several good chances, and coming close right at the death to a winner with a free-kick.  The busy central midfielder will need to be at his best for Zambia in the middle of the pitch coming up against the quality of the like of Alexandre Song and Jean Makoun. 

Prediction

If Cameroon don’t improve greatly, then Zambia may yet cause them a few headaches.  However, it’s hard to see Cameroon being as poor as they were in the opener against Gabon.  Much like Algeria, who also found themselves on the end of a shock score-line, Cameroon should improve against Zambia.  Therefore a Cameroon victory is the most likely outcome. 

Cameroon 2-1 Zambia

African Cup of Nations 2010: Cameroon – Gabon Preview

Kick-off: Wednesday, January 13, 16.00 GMT

Location: Estadio Alto da Chela, Lubango

One of the pre-tournament favourites Cameroon get their 2010 African Cup of Nations tournament underway with a potentially exciting encounter against Gabon.

The final section of the 2010 African Cup of Nations gets underway in Group D when Cameroon take on Gabon in an all Francophone match.  With Cameroon having beaten Gabon twice during qualifying to overhaul their lesser known rivals to seal a place at the World Cup finals later in the summer, the Indomitable Lions will fancy their chances of making it three in a row.

Cameroon beat Gabon both home and away within the space of four days in qualifying for the 2010 African Cup of Nations, which also doubled as the tournament to decide Africa’s representatives at the World Cup.  The victories were hugely significant from Cameroon’s point of view as they transformed their chances of getting to South Africa. 

Fast start

However, after seeing plenty of shocks in the opening round of fixtures during the first match-day at the tournament, Cameroon will not be taking their opponents lightly, despite the obvious intent of claiming all three points and putting themselves into an excellent position to confirm a quarter-final appearance.

Gabon pushed Cameroon all the way in qualifying, and at one point enjoyed a five point gap in the second qualifying section.  Cameroon, under coach Otto Pfister, who had taken Togo to the World Cup in 2006, made a sluggish start to the section, whilst Gabon were mightily impressive in their opening matches winning both.  The subsequent arrival of Paul le Guen at the helm of the Cameroonian team before the first clash against Gabon after Pfister walked out over a row regarding backroom staff, was the catalyst to get Cameroon going. 

Samuel Eto’o, captain of the team since Le Guen’s appointment, was quick to praise his new boss’ approach to the game and some of the fresh ideas he introduced.  Whilst le Guen’s time in Scotland was nothing short of a disaster, if he can help Cameroon topple the might of the pre-tournament favourites the Ivory Coast in this competition, he may go some way to forcing people in Glasgow to revise their opinion of him.

A shared French heritage

It isn’t just le Guen who has been having a positive impact on the country he manages.  Indeed French coaches getting the most out of their side is something of a common thread running through the tournament with Michel Dussuyer earning rave reviews for his work with Benin.  Gabon boss Alain Giresse, former PSG and Toulouse manager, and a compatriot of both Dusseyer and le Guen has also worked wonders with Gabon in recent months.

A first-ever appearance at a World Cup finals might have been a bridge too far for Gabon, but simply being in a position to hinder Cameroon in qualifying indicates the significant and obvious improvement that they have made in the past 18 months.

Gabon will no doubt be inspired by the performances of Malawi and Burkina Faso in the opening days of the tournament and will be relishing the chance to cause an upset of their own at the 2010 African Cup of Nations.

Giresse has targeted this competition as an opportunity to learn for Gabon, whose last appearance at the finals on a continental level dates back 10 years, and he recently stated that despite an appetite for learning there is still much to be done to improve the squad yet further.  Matches against the like of Cameroon can only be of benefit as they continue their journey of self-betterment.

 Form Guide

Cameroon

09/01/10 – Kenya (a) 1-3 – International Friendly

14/11/09 – Morocco (a) 0-2 – FIFA World Cup Qualifier

14/10/09 – Angola (a) 0-0 – International Friendly

10/10/09 – Togo (h) 3-0 FIFA World Cup Qualifier

09/09/09 – Gabon (h) 2-0 FIFA World Cup Qualifier

Gabon

06/01/10 – Mozambique (n) 2-0 victory – International Friendly

14/11/09 – Togo (a) 1-0 – FIFA World Cup Qualifier

10/10/09 – Morocco (h) 3-1 – FIFA World Cup Qualifier

09/09/09 – Cameroon (a) 2-1 – FIFA World Cup Qualifier

05/09/09 – Cameroon (h) 0-2 – FIFA World Cup Qualifier

Player News

Cameroon

The most worrying injury concern for Cameroon surrounds Marseille centre-back Stephane M’Bia.  A one-time target for both Aston Villa and Everton whilst still at Rennes, the holding midfielder picked up an injury in the friendly win at the weekend against Kenya and didn’t train on Monday with the rest of the team.  If M’Bia fails to make it, Cameroon aren’t short of a few quality central midfielders and can call on the like of Ajax’s Enoh Eyong, last season’s South African player of the year, or Schalke’s outstanding 18-year-old Joel Matip. 

Gabon

The Black Panthers aren’t believed to be carrying any injuries going into their opening clash.  Their main decision will come in the attack, where Alain Giresse will need to decide whether to start with both Daniel Cousin and another forward, potentially Willy Aubameyang, or just the Hull City striker on his own.  In their first encounter at home against Cameroon last September they started with both, but in the second away, it was Aubameyang, who ploughed a lone furrow, with Cousin replacing him on the hour mark

Player to Watch

Cameroon

Inter Milan forward Samuel Eto’o should be one of the stars of the entire 2010 African Cup of Nations.  The former Barcelona striker has rekindled his best form at the Serie A runaway league leaders, and will be an omnipresent threat to the Gabonese back-line.  Eto’o scored in both the matches against Gabon wrapping up the victory on both occasions with the second goal for Cameroon, and could well add to his tally. 

Gabon

Captain of the side and veteran of Gabon’s last appearance at the African Cup of Nations back in 2000, Daniel Cousin will have a vital role to play if Gabon are to succeed in pulling off a shock.  The former Glasgow Rangers forward has been told he can leave the KC Stadium as the Tigers attempt to slash the spiralling wage bill by around 25%, so will be looking to impress in this tournament.

Prediction

 Many have tipped Gabon as potential dark-horses to make the quarter-finals, but this match will be their hardest.  Therefore simply avoiding a heavy defeat to set them up for the remaining two matches will be their main priority.  With that in mind, a Cameroon victory seems the most likely outcome.

Cameroon 3-1 Gabon

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