Cameroon vs. Paraguay: 6 Things We Learned
Thursday’s friendly between Cameroon and Paraguay had the look of a match between a side that is bound for the World Cup and a completely disinterested opponent that is set to watch the tournament on television like everyone else.
Only the roles were reversed.
Despite dominating possession, Cameroon rarely looked a threat in the attacking third. Paraguay, meanwhile, acquitted themselves well with a mostly up-and-coming squad, winning 2-1 in Kufstein, Austria.
The following are six takeaways from the encounter.
6. Cameroon Can’t Rely on Idrissou and Aboubakar
Vincent Aboubakar was mostly a nuisance to himself on Thursday.
The Lorient striker wasted the few opportunities that came to him, and when presented with a clear opening, he dove to the ground—attempting to win a penalty.
He was booked for simulation instead.
Mohamadou Idrissou, meanwhile, missed a chance to level the scoreline when his late penalty was stopped by Victor Hugo Centurion.
5. Santa Cruz Can Still Do It
He wore the armband and was his team’s oldest player on the pitch, and on Thursday, 32-year-old Roque Santa Cruz led by example for Paraguay.
Not only did he score what proved to be the winner in the 68th minute, but he also committed himself on the defensive side of the ball and won a handful of fouls for his team.
It was the sort of performance that his club sides would love to have seen from him on a regular basis over the course of his career.
4. Useful Performance from Gaetan Bong
Gaetan Bong is Cameroon’s second-choice left-back, but on Thursday he made a case for a starting role in the upcoming World Cup.
The Olympiakos man was one of the Indomitable Lions' better attackers over the course of the 90 minutes, and he also impressed on the defensive side of the ball.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto has competition.
3. Future Looks Bright for Paraguay
Paraguay manager Victor Genes named a mostly young and inexperienced squad to face Cameroon and must be encouraged by what he saw.
Debutant Ramon Coronel didn’t look at all out of place in a defense that was entirely home-based, and 21-year-old Oscar Romero opened the scoring inside four minutes.
Derlis Gonzalez (20) and Gustavo Gomez (21) also impressed in Austria.
2. Cameroon’s Defense Was Porous
If they were watching, Cameroon’s Group A rivals must be salivating over what they saw from the African outfit’s defensive corps.
Nicolas N’Koulou and Joel Matip looked vulnerable throughout the evening, and shortly after coming on as a substitute, Dany Nounkeu slipped in front of goal, allowing Santa Cruz a tap-in.
No doubt Brazil, Croatia and Mexico will be looking forward to filling the nets against Cameroon later this month.
1. Cameroon Are Group A Outsiders
It was only a friendly, but based on the performance, Cameroon can be considered distinct outsiders in what will otherwise be a competitive Group A.
Granted, they were without a handful of players including talismanic striker Samuel Eto’o, but the Indomitable Lions looked neither threatening in attack nor convincing in defense.
Manager Volker Finke will have his work cut out for him ahead of Cameroon’s World Cup opener against Mexico on June 13.