Can Cameroon overcome issues at home to secure World Cup success?

Despite a tough group which includes favourites Brazil, former player Eto’o has backed Cameroon to win the World Cup.

The Indomitable Lions also made history in 1990 when they qualified for the quarter-finals [Issouf Sanogo/AFP]

Previous World Cup appearances: 7
Titles: 0
Best finish: Quarter-finals (1990)
World Cup record: W4 L12 D7
Goals: 18
Biggest win: 2-1 vs Romania (1990), vs Colombia (1990)
Player to watch: Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa
Ranking: 43
Fixtures: Switzerland (November 24), Serbia (November 28) and Brazil (December 2)

In November, national legend and Cameroonian Football Federation (FECAFOOT) President Samuel Eto’o heaped pressure on the senior football team by predicting an all-African affair at the World Cup 2022 final.

“Africa has always had the potential to achieve a successful World Cup, but we haven’t always shown our best face up to now,” Eto’o said.

“During the years, African teams have acquired more and more experience, and I think they’re ready not only to participate in a World Cup, but also to win it.

“Cameroon will win the World Cup final against Morocco” – Samuel Eto’o

It’s a tall order for a team which had a rocky route to qualification for what is their eighth World Cup appearance, the most ever by an African team. It took an extra-time goal from winger Karl Toko Ekambi in the second leg of a tie against Algeria to qualify, and only on the away goals rule.

Controversy has also trailed the selection of the World Cup squad after coach Rigobert Song had difficulty reading some names during the announcement, leading to speculation of interference from Eto’o, in the local media.

Cameroon World Cup 2022
Cameroon’s coach Rigobert Song, centre, celebrates with his coaches after qualifying for the 2022 Qatar World Cup [File: AFP]

All of this has made Song’s task of getting out of a group with Switzerland, Serbia and pre-tournament favourites Brazil a Herculean one.

To spearhead what may seem like a “mission impossible” are goalkeeper Andre Onana and star midfielder ​​Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa who both play in the Italian Serie A, as well as captain and veteran forward Vincent Aboubakar of Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr FC.

Zambo Anguissa, the team’s defensive linchpin, is an extremely skilled player with an eye for a goal to match. Should he hit top form and propel the team to effective performances, the team could be poised to make history again.

The Indomitable Lions also made history in 1990 when they qualified for the quarter-finals, the first team from the continent to do so – only Senegal (2002) and Ghana (2010) have done so since. To achieve the milestone, Cameroon beat defending champions Argentina 1-0.

Cameroon 1990
Cameroon celebrate after their win over Argentina at the 1990 World Cup [David Jacobs / Action Images]

At the next tournament, they also made history again despite finishing bottom of the group. In its 1994 squad was the veteran Roger Milla who, at 42, holds the record for the oldest goalscorer at any World Cup.

And after missing out on Russia four years ago, Song’s wards are keen to show that their status as a nation to reckon with on the global stage remains undiminished. But can they go on against all odds to top their own records and match Eto’o’s words?

Source: Al Jazeera