Cameroon Country Profile

Cameroon: The Indomitable Lions

Record in International Competitions

TournamentAppearancesBest Finish
FIFA World Cup7Quarter-Finals (1990)
FIFA Confederations Cup3Runners-up (2003)
Olympics2Champions (2000)
Africa Cup of Nations19Champions (1984, 1988, 2000, 2002, 2017)
African Nations Championship3Quarter-Finals (2011, 2016)
FIFA U-20 World Cup6Quarter-Finals (1995)
FIFA U-17 World Cup2Group Stage (2003, 2019)
Africa U-20 Cup of Nations14Champions (1995)
Africa U-17 Cup of Nations7Champions (2003, 2019)


Roger Milla came out of international retirement at the age of 38 to lead Cameroon’s famous 1990 World Cup run. Four years later he became the World Cup’s oldest ever goalscorer at 42.

Football was introduced to Cameroon around 1920 with the first efforts to organize football in the country generally credited to French teacher Charles Lalanne and Sierra Leonean George Goethe. Cameroon’s first exposure to the international footballing world came in the 1950’s as the country approached independence. Cameroonian players began to emerge in French football during this time after a selection of players from the nation competed in an exhibition against OGC Nice in 1950. Establishment of its footballing culture began during this time until the national team was established in 1959, a year before the country achieved independence in 1960.

Gaining affiliation with FIFA in 1962 and CAF in 1963, Cameroon had already established its national championship in 1961. It did not take long for the fledgling nation to establish a reputation for its football even though its national team took some time to become a power. Oryx Douala and Canon Yaoundé were the clubs that dominated early Cameroonian football, and Oryx triumphed as the champions in the first ever version of the CAF Champions League, the 1965 African Cup of Champions Clubs.

The Oryx Douala side that won the inaugural African Cup of Champions Clubs in 1965, a precursor to the CAF Champions League.

A national team dominated by players from the powerful clubs of the major cities with a few French-based players made Cameroon competitive in their initial Africa Cup of Nations participation efforts. Unlucky not to have made it further in the 1970 edition, the country hosted the following tournament in 1972 along with constructing two stadiums that will also be utilized in the country’s 2021 hosting efforts: the Stade de la Réunification in Douala and the Stade Omnisports (now Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo) in Yaoundé. Following an impressive run, the 1972 team was upset in the semi-final against the Republic of Congo and had to settle for third place. However, a presidential decree afterwards established the national team’s well-known nickname: The Indomitable Lions. 

Success did not immediately follow the 1972 Africa Cup of Nations due to the gradual increasing of the level of competition in CAF, but the 1980’s established Cameroon’s status as a regular contender in African football. The first AFCON titles came in 1984 and 1988, but the FIFA World Cup became the stage where Cameroon made history in African football. A stubborn 1982 side didn’t make it past the group stage due to drawing all three matches but counted eventual champions Italy among those results. It was the 1990 team that made all the headlines however. Following a disappointing Africa Cup of Nations where the team admitted to being distracted by the upcoming World Cup, Cameroon president Paul Biya telephoned 38-year-old legendary forward Roger Milla to urge him to return to the national team, and the rest is history. A quarter-final run came after with the team defeating Diego Maradona’s Argentina, Romania, and Colombia in the Round of 16 before losing a heart-breaking match to England.

Since the historic 1990 run, Cameroon has been a team to fear in CAF competition and a regular qualifier for the World Cup. Three more Africa Cup of Nations titles have come in that time, including back-to-back championships in 2000 and 2002 as well as their most recent conquest in 2017 courtesy of a dramatic Vincent Aboubakar winner. Cameroonians compose a large part of African players regularly moving to Europe and the country is set to continue as a footballing hotbed for years to come.

MTN Elite One (Ligue 1) and Youth Academies

Cameroonian clubs were among the best in Africa during CAF’s early years due to the exploits of Oryx Douala in the 1960’s and then Canon Yaoundé in the 70’s and early 80’s. Founded in 1961, the national championship was dominated early in its existence by the Douala and Yaoundé-based clubs who had prior histories before independence. However, other areas of the country have established influential clubs in the league which has been known as the MTN Elite One since 2007. Along with other sub-Saharan African leagues, the Elite One’s influence in CAF competition has faded in recent years following the regular domination of North African teams.

The league system and academies in Cameroon have been efficient at obtaining opportunities for talented young players. The Kadji Sports Academy continues to be an example of one of Africa’s most accomplished with a number of graduates moving on to great accomplishments. One of their graduates, the famous Samuel Eto’o, started his own academy that has provided opportunities to players on the strength of his connections forged from time in Europe. Unlike many of its peers in CAF, Cameroon has established a way to provide opportunities to players from all over the country rather than certain cities and regions because of forward-thinking entrepreneurial efforts.

Prominent Clubs & Academies

Coton Sport

Coton Sport versus Al Ahly in the 2008 CAF Champions League final

Based in the city of Garoua in Cameroon’s Northern Region, Coton Sport is a bit of a newcomer compared to the major clubs in Douala and Yaoundé, being founded in 1986. However, they have emerged as the most successful team in Cameroonian domestic football with 15 Elite One titles. Initial struggles in the lower divisions gave way to promotion to the top division in 1992, soon achieving 2nd place two years later. Soon after, the club established its dominance, with six titles in a row starting in 2003 and their success peaking with a runner-up position in the 2008 CAF Champions League. Many Cameroonian and Sub-Sahara African stars have starred at Coton Sport before moving on to national team success and opportunities abroad. 

Canon Yaoundé

Canon playing against rivals Tonnerre.

There are many top clubs in the nation’s large cities of Douala and Yaoundé including Tonnerre Yaoundé and Union Douala, but Canon has enjoyed the most success and produced many notable players. Following domination of the regional championships before independence, it took until 1970 for the club to win its first domestic league title and then won the first of three CAF Champions League titles the following year. The club’s successful periods coincided with Cameroon’s early national team success, and Canon produced many players who suited up for the Indomitable Lions, especially at the goalkeeper position. Holding the national record for Coupe du Cameroun titles with 11, Canon Yaoundé’s most recent accomplishment was reaching the African Cup Winners’ Cup final in 2000. 

Kadji Sports Academy

Kadji Sports Academy’s most famous graduate Samuel Eto’o

Best known as the producer of Cameroonian superstar Samuel Eto’oKadji Sports Academy was founded by Joseph Kadji Defosso, a businessman from the West Region town of Bana. Kadji established an influential group of businesses in multiple industries and was able to build a sports complex and academy that has produced many players who have gone on to play with the national team. Kadji’s son, Gilbert, is the current president and CEO of the academy and has been a member of FECAFOOT’s executive committee as well as being involved in past football ownership ventures in France and Switzerland. 

Samuel Eto’o Foundation and Academy

Foundation graduate Andre Onana leaps to claim a ball for Ajax.

Cameroon’s all-time leading national team scorer and former Barcelona and Inter Milan star, Samuel Eto’o, is a figure whose reputation is immaculate in his country for his footballing achievements and humanitarian causes off the pitch. His foundation was founded in 2006 and has accomplished many things in its brief existence including the promotion of education and social responsibility in addition to preparing young footballers for success. Based in several of Cameroon’s major cities, the Samuel Eto’o Academy has sent several of its graduates to Barcelona’s La Masia academy where they have graduated to being professional footballers. 

Former players from Cameroon’s top clubs and academies

Coton SportCanon YaoundéKadji Sports AcademySamuel Eto'o Academy
Vincent AboubakarThéophile AbegaSamuel Eto'oAndré Onana
Mouni NgamaleuThomas N'KonoCarlos KameniFabrice Olinga
Jean MakounJean Manga OngueneStephane MbiaMacky Bagnack
Ambroise OyongoJacques Songo'oEric Djemba-DjembaWilfried Kaptoum