Cameroon World Cup 2014: Team Guide for FIFA Tournament
It has been a dismal four years for Cameroon.
After a dreadful time at the last World Cup—when they lost all three matches and were the first team eliminated—they proceeded to fail to qualify for the African Championships in both 2012 and 2013.
In the process, they lost a play-off to the minnows of Cape Verde, who had never before qualified for the African high table.
Morale was also ravaged after eternal disputes between Samuel Eto’o and the federation, while the squad appeared to be hopelessly unbalanced and devoid of creativity.
It is to manager Volker Finke’s credit that he managed to guarantee a place in the World Cup, although the Indomitable Lions will need to overcome one of Brazil, Mexico and Croatia to make the knock-out stages for the first time since 1990.
Road to the Finals
After failing to qualify for the 2013 Cup of Nations, the pressure was on the Indomitable Lions to make amends during the World Cup Qualification programme.
They escaped a taxing group containing the Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya and Togo, before being drawn against Tunisia in the play-offs.
Goalkeeper Charles Itandje [pictured] was the hero during a tight, tense first leg stalemate, before goals from Pierre Achille Webo, Benjamin Moukandjo and Jean II Makoun helped the Central Africans ease away from their opposition in the second leg.
Volker Finke named his provisional Cameroon side on Monday, May 12. He has selected 28 players and two stand-bys, Frank Bagnack of Barcelona and Zock Bep of Cosmos de Bafia.
You can find Bleacher Report’s Player-by-Player World Cup Guide here: Cameroon World Cup 2014 Squad
Goalkeepers: Charles Itandje (Konyaspor), Ndy Assembe (Guingamp), Sammy Ndjock (Fethiyespor), Loic Feudjou (Coton Sport).
Defenders: Allan Nyom (Granada), Dany Nounkeu (Besiktas), Cedric Djeugoue (Coton Sport), Aurelien Chedjou (Galatasaray), Nicolas Nkoulou (Marsiglia), Armel Kana-Biyik (Rennes), Henri Bedimo (Lyon), Benoît Assou-Ekotto (Tottenham Hotspur), Gaetan Bong (Olympiakos).
Midfielders: Eyong Enoh (Antalyaspor), Jean Makoun (Rennes), Joel Matip (Schalke), Stephane Mbia (QPR), Landry N'Guemo (Bordeaux), Alex Song (Barcelona), Cedric Loe (Osasuna), Edgar Sally (Lens).
Strikers: Samuel Eto'o (Chelsea), Eric Choupo Moting (Mainz), Benjamin Moukandjo (Nancy), Vincent Aboubakar (Lorient), Achille Webo (Fenerbahce), Mohamadou Idrissou (Kaiserslautern), Fabrice Olinga (Zulte-Waregem).
Volker Finke enjoyed an extensive career in German football before taking the Cameroon job.
He enjoyed a remarkable 16-year period at SC Freiburg, as well as a two-year stint as Director of Sport at FC Koln.
After testing the waters outside Germany, with a brief spell as boss of Japanese side Urawa Red Diamonds, he was appointed by the Central African powerhouse in May 2013.
Finke was charged with ending a disastrous spell in which the Indomitable Lions failed to qualify for the last two Cup of Nations tournaments, he achieved that, with World Cup qualification, but now faces the taxing challenges of Group A.
It’s hard to look too far beyond Samuel Eto’o as the national team’s star man. While the defence is packed with key individuals, the Chelsea forward will likely steal the show—for better or worse—in Brazil.
The squad doesn’t possess many players who can change the complexion of a contest, but Eto’o, be it as a finisher or as a creator, retains this ability.
The three-time Champions League winner is a big-game player, and he has a point to prove at the World Cup—Brazil will be his fourth tournament, but he has only once featured on the winning side.
One to Watch
Joel Matip has been steadily growing in stature over in the Bundesliga with Schalke 04. He has been a regular feature in the Royal Blues’ starting XI and has made 31 appearances in the German top flight this season.
He has also looked comfortable in the Champions League and, at 22, is remarkably established for his age.
Competition in the heart of the Indomitable Lions defence and at the base of the midfield is fierce, but Finke will likely seek to find a place for the 6'4" Matip.
World Cup Record
1982: Group Stage P3 W0 D3 L0 GF1 GA1
Star Man: Thomas N’Kono
The debate still rages as to whether N’Kono or his compatriot Joseph-Antoine Bell is Cameroon’s all-time greatest keeper. At this tournament, however, N’Kono claimed the Number 1 shirt and delivered some fine showings, keeping two clean sheets in the process.
1990: Quarter Final P5 W3 D0 L2 GF7 GA9
Star Man: Roger Milla
Francois Omam-Biyik scored the most-famous goal in Cameroonian history with his opening match leap against Argentina, but Roger Milla—installed in the team at the request of president Paul Biya—stole the show with a series of fine goals.
1994: Group Stage P3 W0 D1 L2 GF3 GA11
Star Man: Roger Milla
Now 42, and not quite as influential as he had been four years previously, Milla was, nonetheless, on song, scoring against Russia to become the oldest scorer in World Cup history.
1998: Group Stage P3 W0 D2 L1 GF 2 GA5
Star Man: Pierre Njanka
Cameroon struggled at France ’98 and finished bottom of their group. They still managed to contribute one of the goals of the tournament, however, as Pierre Njanka shimmied through the Austrian defence after picking the ball up in his own half, before firing home a late equaliser. Delicious.
2002: Group Stage P3 W1 D1 L1 GF2 GA3
Star Man: Patrick M’Boma
Cameroon again bowed out in the opening stage, but managed to pick up four points. A strikeforce of M’Boma and Eto’o led the line, with the former opening the scoring against the Republic of Ireland after 39 minutes.
2010: Group Stage P3 W0 D0 L3 GF2 GA5
Star Man: Samuel Eto’o
Again, a campaign to forget for the Indomitable Lions, but at least Eto’o, then at the peak of his powers, scored twice.
Friday, 13 June, 1 p.m. local time, Estadio das Dunas, Natal vs. MEXICO
Wednesday, 18 June, 6 p.m. local time, Arena Amazonia, Manaus vs. CROATIA
Monday, 23 June, 5 p.m. local time, Arena Pernambuco, Recife vs. BRAZIL