In digging deep to dramatically qualify in extra time of the second leg of their World Cup play-off against Algeria, Cameroon showed that they will not be travelling to Qatar to simply make up the numbers. We take a closer look at five of the team’s most instrumental performers.
Inter Milan’s Andre Onana is the latest in a long line of proficient Cameroon custodians, such as Thomas Nkono, Joseph Antoine Bell and Carlos Kameni. With an imposing height that enables him to effectively challenge opposing forwards, the Samuel Eto’o Foundation graduate is excellent in the air and boasts cat-like reflexes and anticipation.
A reliable shot-stopper, Onana is equally adept at distribution, and his goal kicks and throws often serve to relaunch attacks. To round off his skillset, the African ’keeper is also capable of putting in a well-timed tackle outside his box when the need arises, as he demonstrated during the Cup of Nations semi-final between Cameroon and Egypt earlier this year.
The first thing that stands out to football observers watching Collins Fai is his explosive pace. The dynamic defender, who plies his trade for Al-Tai in Saudi Arabia, doubtless ranks among Africa’s fastest-ever full-backs. Whether defending or attacking, his blistering pace is an excellent asset for Les Lions Indomptables.
A highly competent and dependable right-back, the Bamenda native marks opponents in a rigorous fashion and is capable of finding crucial space when bursting down the flank, where he is particularly adroit at beating his man and linking up with his right midfielder.
Cameroon captain Vincent Aboubakar, endearingly known as ‘Abouchou’ by his country’s supporters, is on the verge of playing in his third World Cup in Qatar. A stalwart of the national set-up and the top scorer at this year’s Cup of Nations, the free-scoring forward poses a constant threat in the opposition penalty box.
The Al-Nassr star’s heading ability, teamwork and athleticism make him an extremely well-rounded striker, and with 37 international goals under his belt, he recently overtook the legendary Roger Milla in Cameroon’s all-time scoring charts to move into third place behind Samuel Eto’o (56) and Francois Omam-Biyik (45).
Karl Toko Ekambi
Sometimes fielded in the support striker role, Karl Toko Ekambi is a master at creating space and depth. Additionally capable of performing on either wing, his link-up play with Ambroise Oyongo Bitolo on the left in particular often leads to the creation of goalscoring chances.
The Lyon player’s principal asset is his lightning-quick pace with the ball at his feet, which enables him to attack from deep positions and make incursions into the spaces left by the opposing rearguard. Ekambi’s offensive qualities are at their best when Cameroon are counter-attacking, and he has the ability to score from practically any angle.
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting
A leader on and off the pitch, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is, together with Vincent Aboubakar, one of the team’s most experienced heads. A versatile attacking option, the Bayern Munich forward is able to adapt to any formation or gameplan. Pacey and technically gifted, the Cameroonian is particularly dangerous on the edge of the box.
Choupo-Moting also happens to be the most successful member of the national team, having bagged two Bundesliga winners’ medals with Bayern and played in the 2020 UEFA Champions League final with Paris Saint-Germain. His experience of some of the most prestigious competitions on the planet will likely be hugely valuable to Rigobert Song in Qatar.