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2022 FIFA World Cup Preview: Cameroon

The long wait is just about over for the 2022 FIFA World Cup with five African national teams preparing to represent the continent in Qatar. Pan-Africa Football is previewing each African national team before the group stage takes place to provide a detailed guide for viewers and supporters of African football to refer to throughout the competition. Next up in our team profiles is 2021 Africa Cup of Nations hosts and 1990 FIFA World Cup quarterfinalists Cameroon:

Cameroon

Profile

FIFA Ranking: 43

Previous appearances: 8 (1982, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2010, 2014)

Best Finish: Quarterfinals (1990)

Schedule

Group G

November 24: Cameroon vs. Switzerland

November 28: Cameroon vs. Serbia

December 2: Cameroon vs. Brazil

Manager

Rigobert Song

Cameroon’s all-time appearance leader is one of the best defenders in African football history and his close relationship with Cameroon Football Federation president Samuel Eto’o played a major factor in Song’s appointment following the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. Song’s ability and inexperience as a manager has come under heavy scrutiny due to underwhelming results in Cameroon’s most recent friendlies and his experimentation with different tactics. The high expectations set out by Eto’o and questions about Song’s tactics have created an atmosphere filled with pressure ahead of a difficult group for Cameroon.

Song’s tactics have varied between a 4-3-3/4-5-1 and even a 3-4-3 which Song used in the poorly received 2-0 friendly defeat to Uzbekistan in September. Based on the players Song has selected in his squad it appears likely he will go with the 4-3-3/4-5-1 with plenty of forwards in the team, the majority of whom are versatile options capable of operating out wide.

The midfield selections consist mostly of players who operate centrally and Song’s midfield will include two technical midfielders like André Zambo Anguissa, Martin Hongla and Olivier Ntcham combined with a more defensive player like Samuel Oum Gouet who will hold their position. Cameroon favors attacking down the right flank due to the attacking quality of right back Collins Fai who will look to provide excellent crosses for star strikers Vincent Aboubakar and Karl Toko Ekambi to get on the end of. Toko Ekambi will look to move inside from the left wing to join the centrally positioned Aboubakar and the right side of the forward line will feature one of Eric Choupo-Moting, Moumi Ngamaleu and Bryan Mbeumo.

Expected Formation

Goalkeepers

23. André Onana (Inter Milan- Italy)
Appearances: 31

Overcame a battle for the starting position at Inter Milan to become the preferred option and was a major contributor to the Nerazzuri’s qualification for the UEFA Champions League knockout stage. Possesses excellent reflexes and is aggressive on aerial balls to go along with unlimited confidence. Onana was inconsistent at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon but now that he is playing regularly for his club, the graduate of the Samuel Eto’o Academy could make a major difference for the hopes of the Indomitable Lions in Qatar.

16. Devis Epassy (Abha FC- Saudi Arabia)
Appearances: 5

The French-born shot stopper earned the backup spot for Cameroon when he deputized for the suspended Onana during the group stage of World Cup qualifying, starting four matches to gain valuable experience. The journeyman at club level got his start in the lower leagues of France and Spain before moving to Greek and now Saudi Arabian football.

1. Simon Ngapandouetnbu (Marseille- France)
Appearances: 0

The 19-year-old rejected a call up from French national youth teams to join Cameroon’s senior team and is a prospect for the future with the Indomitable Lions. Has yet to make his professional debut at Olympique Marseille and will only be used in the case of an emergency.

Defenders

21. Jean-Charles Castelletto (FC Nantes- France)
Appearances: 12
Goals: 0

With 2021 AFCON center back partner Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui left out of the World Cup squad, Castelletto is the player who manager Rigobert Song decided to keep due to his strong club form. Does well in aerial duels and also has the pace to keep up with quicker attackers, making him a good complement to more aggressive center backs due to his ability to cover ground and recover the ball.

25. Nouhou Tolo (Seattle Sounders- United States)
Appearances: 16
Goals: 0

A scrappy left back with unlimited stamina, Nouhou was a part of the Seattle Sounders team that made history by becoming the first American club to win the CONCACAF Champions League and will participate at the next FIFA Club World Cup. A favorite of the supporters for both Seattle and Cameroon who prefers to operate at his natural left back position but can also play as a central defender in a three-man back line. Cameroon will count on his ability to shut down opposition wingers as he tests himself at the highest level.

19. Collins Fai (Al-Tai- Saudi Arabia)
Appearances: 50
Goals: 0

A reliable full back who can operate on either flank but should start at right back in Qatar. Fai contributes more to the Cameroonian attack than Nouhou on the opposite flank with his good crossing ability to take advantage of the aerial ability of striker Vincent Aboubakar. The question is whether the 29-year-old can fulfill his defensive duties on the right side in Cameroon’s 4-3-3.

4. Christopher Wooh (Rennes- France)
Appearances: 1
Goals: 0

Cameroon Football Federation president Samuel Eto’o visited Wooh in France to secure the commitment of the French-born center back to the Indomitable Lions and now he appears to be an option for the future who can contribute now. The 21-year-old looks set to battle with veteran Nicolas Nkoulou for the starting position alongside Castelletto. Wooh’s aggressive style of defending is a good complement to Casteletto but he lacks confidence on his passing and dribbling, making Nkoulou the favorite if Song goes with a four-man defensive line.

3. Nicolas Nkoulou (Aris FC- Greece)
Appearances: 76
Goals: 2

The former Olympique Marseille player returned to the Cameroon team for September friendlies after a nearly six year absence from international football, last playing when Cameroon won the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations where he scored the crucial equalizing goal in the final against Egypt. Nkoulou captained Cameroon at the 2014 World Cup and Song recalled the 32-year-old to bring his valuable experience to a young defensive group. He is the favorite to start alongside Castelletto and can also operate in the three-man back line as a capable handler of the ball.

24. Enzo Ebosse (Udinese- Italy)
Appearances: 1
Goals: 0

The French-born defender only made his debut for Cameroon in a September friendly match against Uzbekistan and adds versatility to the squad. Can play at either left back or center back and it appears that Song values Ebosse as a naturally left-footed center back for a three-man defensive line who can also backup Nouhou at the left back position.

17. Olivier Mbaizo (Philadelphia Union- United States)
Appearances: 11
Goals: 0

Brings plenty of stamina and determination to the right back position. It took a couple of seasons for the Mbaizo to develop after joining American club Philadelphia Union as a 20-year-old in 2018 but he has improved greatly, starting and putting in a good effort for Philadelphia during their close defeat to Los Angeles FC in the 2022 MLS Cup final. Likely to backup Collins Fai in Qatar.

Midfielders

8. André-Frank Zambo Anguissa (Napoli- Italy)
Appearances: 42
Goals: 5

Zambo Anguissa is a stellar box-to-box midfielder who is crucial to Cameroon’s three-man midfield because of his contribution to attacking buildups and high passing efficiency. Is a regular starter for one of Europe’s most in-form teams as Napoli continue a dominant season in Italy’s Serie A, earning a permanent move to the club after spending last season on loan. The 26-year-old also plays an important role on the defensive end by blocking passing lanes and staying active to recover loose balls.

18. Martin Hongla (Hellas Verona- Italy)
Appearances: 17
Goals: 0

An outstanding performer for Cameroon at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations with his incisive passing, Hongla is an important component in the Cameroonian attack because he and Zambo Anguissa connect the midfield to the forward line. Excels at the technical skills needed in the midfield and will be eager to showcase his ability because his club Hellas Verona are currently at the foot of the table in Italy’s Serie A.

22. Olivier Ntcham (Swansea City- England)
Appearances: 2
Goals: 0

The French-born former Celtic midfielder committed to Cameroon in 2022, making his debut in the September friendly defeat to Uzbekistan. Ntcham adds to a technical midfield and is making a push to be included in the starting lineup in Qatar thanks to his good form with Welsh club Swansea in England’s second-tier EFL Championship.

14. Samuel Oum Gouet (KV Mechelen- Belgium)
Appearances: 21
Goals: 0

Oum Gouet is not a player who will stand out on the pitch but provides defensive stability to the midfield and maintains possession with his short passing. Started the majority of matches at the 2021 AFCON and appears to be the preferred option for Song as the defensive oriented member of his midfield.

For a more detailed look at Oum Gouet click here to see our scouting report

15. Pierre Kunde (Olympiacos- Greece)
Appearances: 30
Goals: 1