The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon yesterday played their last friendly match before the World Cup against Serbia. After a 3-4 defeat, the picture is bleak for the quarter-finalists at the last African Cup: Four games, two defeats and two draws, eight goals conceded and five scored.
If you look closely, you will see that things are getting worse: the lions have respectively conceded none, one, three and four goals in their subsequent matches. We have had no victory in 9 outings.We see desperate defending and a misguided attacking force.
I thought it was time for Le Guen to explore, build and provide certainty to the national team of Cameroon. But it is clear that the team has not yet found a cohesive play style and we are not certain about our starting 11.
The substitutions we saw in this game were surprising and disastrous. Eto’o who had a match suspension was replaced by Webo . Achille Emana was on the bench in favour of Aboubakar Vincent on the right side.
In the midfield, Alexandre Song, who had certainly not been at his best form since the departure of friendly games, was replaced by Nkoulou, the Cameroon central defender during CAN.
Joel Matip who is the substitute for Alex Song was on the bench. Stephane Mbia who has been a mid-fielder is now the central defender playing alongside Bassong.
The captain’s arm-band after Webo, Geremi and Eto’o was given to Souleymanou Hamidou.
The defense is inconsistent with frequent substitution of players to play different roles. Mandjeck has never been a right-wing defender.
It shows on the field, our players are good individually but when it comes to defense alignment the Lions lack vivacity and a cohesive spirit.The versatility of the Cameroon team makes Paul Le Guen to have a problem of choice.
Gaetan Bong, Nkoulou Nicolas, Georges Mandjeck, Nathan Eccleston, Geremi Njitap, Stephane Mbia, or almost all have played in various positions in friendly games or for the CAN.
This versatility which is the dream of every coach is not yet proving positive results , and it seems that Paul Le Guen is trapped by his own choice: against Serbia, Nicolas Nkoulou was very good in midfield.The irony is that he is depriving Cameroon’s best defender to put in midfield in place of Alexandre Song, one of the best player in the world today in this position ?
Certainly we must try to innovate, but there are pillars in the national team whom we should n’t displace. Eto’o, Nkoulou, Assou-Ekotto and Alexandre Song are those pillars in the team.
It might have been wiser to try to make the best of these players in building a team around them, rather than doing endless permutations that do not contribute to the success of the group.
Vincent Abubakar, a striker was a shadow of himself exiled on the right side. Struggling to play offensively, he never retreated defensively which put George Mandjeck at the mercy of the Serbian offensive players. Mandjeck often found himself facing two or more Serbian attackers all alone.
Despite losing against Serbia, the Lions developed the best game during the friendlies during the second half.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto has once again been monumental. His cross of the ball gave a decisive opening score by Webo similar to the goal against Portugal.The Tottenham defender is the player with the most accurate passes in the team, and participated in the most dangerous actions.
Achille Webo has shown some good aspects: a nice double of the head, a good offensive presence and most importantly, lots of metres covered on the field. The Mallorca striker has scored 3 goals in four games.
The combination of attackers should be major problem for Le Guen right now.
Choupo-Moting, less prominent than with Portugal has nevertheless made a clean sheet.He so far proves to be a better attacker than Webo with his technical ability.
During the second period, the lions who were conquerors, rulers, and conserved the ball could not take the opportunity to equalize the goals.
But ultimately, the predominant impression is that the Cameroon team can not score more goals than it concedes, and Paul Le Guen is still not clear which team is the starting 11.
Soulemanou conceded 4 goals in 45 minutes . Is Kameni a better goal-keeper ?