By Basil Afoni
With just some few days before the lions face Mexico in their opener, lions4life takes a look at some of the strengths and weaknesses of the lions as they embark on their redemption journey.
Cameroon has great players that are all playing in to European teams and are in high demand by top European clubs. However, when it comes to the national team, a number of reasons make them unproductive.
Their so much reliant on marksman, Samuel Eto’o to produce will be a problem. Taking into consideration the fact that the striker is ageing and has lost his sharpness, will pose a problem to the squad.
Their greatest problem will be lack of goals as a result of their lack of attacking play style. This is due to the fact that Finke’s philosophy of play is defensive.
Also, lack of creativity at the midfield, wingers to provoke and deadly passes to strikers will be another worry. The lions’ heavy and slow play style as oppose to the fast playing styles of Brazil, Mexico and Croatia is a call for concern.
Divisions within the camp that contributed greatly in their 2010 World cup exit in South Africa could surface again since a truth and reconciliation meeting has not taken place.
This was pointed out by former lions coach Claude Le Roy: “Cameroon actually has great qualities, with a host of good players; but they will need to be in solidarity and collective interest should come before individual interest, “he advised on ‘FIFA.com’.
In one of his criticisms, 1990 World Cup Star, Francois Omam-Biyik was indifferent. “Cameroon cannot get past the first round because, although they have quality footballers, the team does not play as a unit.
Another problem will be self pride that seems to be in the lions’ den. Those playing in top clubs see their team mates as inferior. This again, Francois Omam-Biyik listed as one of the things that will stop the lions from making it through the first round.
“Everybody believes he is a star and it will be tough winning against a Brazilian team with home advantage, and Croatia and Mexico,” he said.
Defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto from English club, Queen’s Park Rangers condemns this attitude of some of his team mates.
“This team is just like the one that reached the 1990 quarterfinals in terms of technique and skill. But when the players meet they all consider themselves big shots from so-called top clubs and silly little problems spoil the dressing room’s atmosphere…We need to change our mindsets and put the egos aside.”
Also, the problem of money that has always been an issue in Cameroon seems to be coming around again. Just like the money issue before the 2002 World Cup which deviated the concentration of players that saw them exit early during the tourney, if this is not handled with care and caution, the lions are bound to humiliate the nation of Cameroon at the tourney.
The lack of support from former lions since Finke took over is also a problem. Since Finke was appointed as coach, former lions have been criticising him, thereby making his job difficult and might also cause clangs in the team so that their point is proven right.
The solution will be if these former lions rally their support behind Finke and also bring up their own ideas, then certainly the lions will replicate the 1990 heroes.
However, unlike in the past, most of the players are first team choice players in their various clubs. Also, the awareness that they are in a top group will help motivate them.
Stephane Mbia pointed out in an interview that, “We must prepare better than in 2010 because we are in a difficult group. We are ready to give our best for the sake of the country, our teammates and ourselves.”
It will be difficult to underestimate Cameroon’s attacking force. Playing with second highest goal scorer in French League One, Vincent Aboubakar, Mainze reliable scorer, Eric Choupo Moting and experienced Samuel Eto’o, they will certainly create fear to defenders of the opposing teams.