Cameroon

Cameroun / Kamerun / Cameroon

  • Capital: Yaoundé
  • Official Languages: French, English
  • Recognised Regional Languages: Cameroonian Pidgin, Camfranglais, Chadian Arabic, Ewondo, Fula, Igbo
  • Nicknames: Les Lions Indomptables (The Indomitable Lions) – men’s team; Les Lionnes Indomptables (The Indomitable Lionesses) – women’s team
  • Association: Fédération Camerounaise de Football (FECAFOOT)
  • FIFA Code: CMR

Records

  • Best World Cup Result (Men): Quarter Finals (1990)
  • Best World Cup Result (Women): Round of 16 (2015, 2019)
  • Best AFCON/CAN Result (Men): WINNERS (1984, 1988, 2000, 2002, 2017)
  • Best AFCON/CAN Result (Women): Finalists (1991, 2004, 2014, 2016)
  • Best CHAN Result (Men): Fourth Place (2020)
  • Best COSAFA Cup Result (Women): Finalists (2018)
  • Highest FIFA Ranking (Men): 11th (November 2006-January 2007, November-December 2009)
  • Highest FIFA Ranking (Women): 41st (July 2019)
  • Lowest FIFA Ranking (Men): 79th (February-March 2013)
  • Lowest FIFA Ranking (Women): 89th (March 2007)
  • Most Capped Player: Rigobert Song – 137 caps
  • Top Scorer: Samuel Eto’o – 56 goals

The Republic of Cameroon (République du Cameroun) is situated in west-central Africa, on the continent’s South Atlantic coastline. At the cultural crossroads of Western and Central Africa, the country has a number of land borders – a long border with Nigeria to the northwest, Chad to the northeast, Central African Republic to the east, the Republic of Congo to the southeast, Gabon to the south, and Equatorial Guinea to the southwest. The island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe is southwest of the Cameroonian coast, in the Gulf of Guinea, whilst Bioko Island (which is part of Equatorial Guinea and has its capital Malabo on) is just off Cameroon’s western coast. The country gained its independence from France in 1960, and incorporated the southern part of British Cameroon in 1961, finalising the borders the country currently occupies. Its football association was founded just before independence in 1959, with the country becoming members of FIFA in 1962, and CAF in 1963. However Cameroon’s first official international match (as French Cameroon) came as early as 1956, when they faced the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) in a 3-2 away loss.

The Indomitable Lions are the most successful African country within the history of the World Cup, having qualified for the tournament a record seven times. In six of their seven appearances, they have failed to progress beyond the group stage, but their biggest highlight was most certainly the 1990 World Cup in Italy. In a tournament which made Roger Milla and his iconic corner flag dance celebration world famous, they started their campaign with an incredible shock 1-0 victory over the defending world champions Argentina in Milan via a François Omam-Biyik header. This was followed up with a 2-1 victory over Romania where Milla grabbed a legendary ten minute brace which confirmed their progression to the knockout round. In the Round of 16, their match against Colombia went into extra time, and once again Milla grabbed a quickfire brace to confirm a 2-1 victory after 120 minutes to ensure Cameroon became the first African nation to progress to the quarter finals of the World Cup. They were unlucky in their last eight tie against England, where goals from Emmanuel Kundé and Eugène Ekéké gave them a 2-1 lead with just seven minutes remaining. Alas a Gary Lineker penalty levelled the scores to take the game into extra time, with another Lineker penalty in the 105th minute finally ending Cameroon’s fairytale campaign with a 3-2 defeat in Napoli.

Cameroon have also been very successful in the African Cup of Nations, having won the continental tournament on five occasions. They qualified for their first AFCON in the early 1970s, with their debut tournament appearance in 1970, and then actually hosted the continental tournament in 1972, where they achieved a third place finish on home soil. However, it wouldn’t be until the 1980s when Cameroon started to become one of the strongest teams within Africa, being blessed with their first golden generation and curiously having two of the best-ever African goalkeepers in Thomas N’Kono and Joseph-Antoine Bell in their squad at the same time.

[NOTE: The goalkeeper situation in Cameroon between N’Kono and Bell, and their representation of following either the “reactive” (N’Kono) or “proactive” (Bell) forms of goalkeeping, is mentioned more thoroughly in a chapter of the football book “The Outsider: A History of the Goalkeeper” by Jonathan Wilson]

Their first African title came in 1984 when they achieved a 3-1 victory over neighbours Nigeria in the final, and would again reach the next final two years later in the 1986 tournament. However, Cameroon failed to retain their continental crown after a penalty shootout defeat to hosts Egypt. Nonetheless, they would win their second trophy in three tournaments by claiming the 1988 AFCON trophy. Another final victory over rivals Nigeria (this time 1-0) would confirm Cameroon’s position as one of the strongest teams in Africa throughout the 1980s.

Highlights of the 1988 African Cup of Nations Final

It wouldn’t be until the start of the new millennium when Cameroon would again reach the highest echelons of African football. Blessed with a second golden generation of talented players such as Lauren, Rigobert Song, Geremi, the late Marc-Vivien Foé, Joseph-Désiré Job, and the incredibly talented Samuel Eto’o, they would dominate African football in the early 2000s. They clinched their third AFCON title in 2000 with yet another victory over Nigeria in the final (it was now becoming a habit), this time winning 4-3 on penalties having drawn 2-2 with normal and extra time played. The Indomitable Lions would successfully defend their title two years later, when they again succeeded in a penalty shootout, although this time beating Senegal (who would subsequently light up the 2002 World Cup a few months later) 3-2 after a goalless 120 minutes of play. They would reach another AFCON final in 2008 but would suffer a single goal defeat to Egypt in the final, with the Pharaohs repeating the feat of the 1986 final in the second of their three consecutive African titles.

Highlights of the 2000 AFCON Final between Cameroon and Nigeria.

Surprisingly the 2010s has been a period of extremes for the Cameroonian team. Despite having qualified for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, they failed to qualify for two consecutive AFCONs in 2012 and 2013, in between those World Cup appearances. However in 2017, they surprised everyone in African football when they finally overcame Egypt in an AFCON final by beating them 2-1 in Gabon to clinch their fifth continental title. In the 2019 AFCON tournament, they were unable to successfully defend their title when they exited the competition at the Round of 16, losing 3-2 to eternal rivals, Nigeria. They will certainly be taking part in the upcoming 2021/22 AFCON tournament as they have been confirmed as hosts of the competition which is scheduled to take place in January and February 2022. In addition, Cameroon are still within contention for qualifying for the 2022 World Cup as they have progressed to the second round of CAF qualifying. Should they win their very tough-looking group ahead of Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique, and Malawi, then they’ll progress to a two-legged playoff where the winners of the five playoff matches will qualify for the World Cup. It’ll be a tough route to take if Cameroon are to appear in their eighth World Cup…

To talk about the five-time champions of Africa, and the most successful African team in World Cup history who became the first African quarter-finalists at Italia ’90, we interviewed the excellent Kosi_foottalk. They are a Cameroon-based sports account who report on all things involving the world of football, with a natural focus on Cameroonian football, its players playing abroad, and the national teams. To find their social media accounts, follow the links below:

Q. Who would you say is Cameroon’s best player and coach/manager of all-time, and the reasonings behind the choices?

Samuel Eto’o

Samuel Eto’o is the best player of all time. He is the top scorer of the national team [with 56 goals in 118 games between 1997 and 2014], and has scored a record 18 goals in the African Nations Cup’s history, winning two of them in 2000 and 2002.

Winfried Schäfer [German coach who managed the Cameroon national team between 2001 and 2004] is the best coach. He led a group of highly spirited boys to win the 2002 African Nations Cup, and then to the final of the 2003 Confederations Cup.

Q. Who could be regarded as a ‘cult hero’ in terms of the Cameroonian national team both in the past and present?

Jean II Makoun

To me Jean II Makoun [midfielder who played 68 times and scored 5 times for Cameroon between 2003 and 2014] is a cult hero as he wasn’t the most popular amongst his age group but he is greatly admired by boys in the locals, and he is that player who everyone loves for his gameplay, and his humility as a person.

Q. Of the current team, who would you say is the best player in the national side currently?

Vincent Aboubakar

The best player in the current team to me is Vincent Aboubakar [29-year-old striker currently playing for Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr having moved from Turkish side Beşiktaş during the summer]. During his time with the national team, we have seen him deliver very decisive goals or performances on several occasions, with the most obvious example of this being him scoring the winning goal of the 2017 AFCON final.

Q. How would you describe the current state/performance of the national team?

Toni Conceição

The current team definitely still requires a lot of work and building, and if we analyse the coach’s recent call-ups [Cameroon’s current manager is Portuguese coach Toni Conceição], we will realise that he is still looking for that perfect blend of players to put his trust in. So it’s a work in progress currently.

Q. Are there any Cameroonian players who you think we should be focusing on for the future – who would you say is the most exciting up & coming talent from the country?

André-Franck Zambo Anguisa

André-Franck Zambo Anguisa [25-year-old defensive midfielder currently playing for Fulham] in recent times has made many fans regard him as a “Brazilian of Cameroonian decent” as his brilliance and flair is distinguishing.

Another player is Lambert Araina [22-year-old forward], who got his first call-up for the national team recently, is a work in progress and we can’t wait to see him play for the country. He is a lethal striker, and has proven that with 19 goals in all competitions for Coton Sports, with 7 goals and 3 assists coming in the CAF Confederations Cup. His performances definitely prompted teams to come for him, and ultimately he has just moved to Moroccan side ASFAR.

Also, we can’t ignore Nouhou Tolo [24-year-old left-back] of MLS side Seattle Sounders who was recently announced in the 2021 MLS All-Star team.

Q. Looking at Cameroon’s international history, what would you say has been the best game, result, or performance for the national team in your opinion?

The best performance for me is the final against Egypt in AFCON 2017 where Cameroon came from behind after Mohamed Elneny’s 22nd minute opener, before a 59th minute equalizer from Nicolas Nkoulou, and 88th minute winner from Vincent Aboubakar.

We all doubted the young team but they brought joy as they surprised the whole nation with that victory.

Highlights of the 2017 AFCON final between Cameroon and Egypt.

Q. Likewise, is there a performance or result which is regarded as the team’s lowest point?

When Cameroon failed to qualify for the 2012 Nations Cup which was scheduled to be hosted by our neighbours Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. It was a great shame and every Cameroon will tell you that was unbearable to miss out considering the status the Indomitable Lions had built themselves in the years past.

The 1-0 loss away at Senegal which proved crucial in failing to qualify for AFCON 2012

Q. What are the best and worst things about being a fan of the Cameroon national team?

The best thing as a football fan in Cameroon is the joy football brings to the country despite the crisis, and also when we win, we remind the world of football who we are. It boosts bragging rights.

The bad side about the national selection comes when players, who merit a national team call-up, are not seen in the same light in the coach’s books. Also, when we don’t stand the test of time in games which we deserve to do better in. In Cameroon, the emotional depression for fans in a case of a loss or elimination for the national team is immeasurable.

Q. Have the fans adopted some kind of unofficial anthem to sing along to before/during/after matches?

The fans don’t actually adopt particular songs but always go with the trend from songs which players vibe to in their locker room ambiance moments.

Q. Do you have a favourite or iconic shirt from the whole time of the national team?

This is the most iconic shirt for me:

The sleeveless shirt from 2002

Q. Finally, what are your hopes for the future of the Cameroon national team?

This generation of young Cameroonian football is an embodiment of fantastic talents. I will reference myself to the U-20 Lions who won the UNIFFAC U-20 Tournament in Equatorial Guinea to qualify for the U-20 AFCON in Mauritania which saw them progress to the quarter-finals of the tournament, and were very unlucky not to progress to the semi-finals [losing on a penalty shootout to eventual winners Ghana]. If these boys can be throughly supported as they progress through the various youth levels, I tell you, they will go places under the Cameroon flag.

That’s the system we should use, support players through from the youthful ranks to the senior level, and then at some point, blend them with the established seniors for transition and ultimate progression of the national team.

A massive merci beaucoup to the superb Kosi_foottalk for answering our questions on the Indomitable Lions. Remember you can find their excellent social media accounts in the links at the top of the blogpage.

If you have any comments, suggestions, reactions, or even your own answers to the above questions, please write them in the comments box below. Likewise, you can either email us at the94thmin@gmail.com or send a message at @The94thMin on Twitter.

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