Cameroon open Confed Cup campaign facing Chile

HIGH: Ambroise Oyongo of Cameroon challenges Mohamed Salah of Egypt during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations final. (Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix)
HIGH: Ambroise Oyongo of Cameroon challenges Mohamed Salah of Egypt during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations final. (Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix)

Johannesburg - It seems to be an unfortunate recurrence that whenever African teams participate in global competitions, there is some controversy or scandal that surrounds them.

In many cases, it is a financial issue that has – at times – even led to situations where teams refused to board aeroplanes until the impasse had been resolved or have threatened officials with leaving.

Reigning world champions

Cameroon’s third appearance at the Confederations Cup in Russia this year is no different, although this time around, the players have nothing to do with it.

Instead, it was Cameroonian club Étoile Filante that wrote to Fifa, informing the soccer body that the country’s football federation had no authority to send a team to play in the competition, which is widely seen as a dress rehearsal for next year’s World Cup.

Although Fifa acknowledged that there were problems within football structures in Cameroon, it said that nothing stood in the way of the Indomitable Lions taking their place in the tournament, for which the reigning world champions (Germany), the six regional champions (Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, Cameroon, Chile and Mexico), as well as the hosts (Russia) qualify.

The African champions get their campaign under way in group B against rookies Chile, who beat Argentina on penalties last year to win back-to-back Copa America titles.

Different team

For Cameroon, on the other hand, it will be the third time at the tournament, with a runners-up finish in 2005 their best result.

Their participation in France that year was marked by the in-play death of midfielder Marc-Vivien Foé, who collapsed during the Indomitable Lions’ semifinal victory against Colombia.

Poignantly, it was the South American country that provided Cameroon with the opposition in their final warm-up game, but it was most likely a game Cameroonians will prefer to forget as Colombia ran out 4-0 winners in Getafe, on the outskirts of Madrid.

Cameroon spent most of the second half playing with 10 men after Robert Tambe was sent off shortly after the break.

Cameroon coach Hugo Broos was not too concerned after the game, though, promising that fans would see a different team against Chile.

“This was a friendly match, but against Chile we will be playing in the Confederations Cup, the motivation will be different.”

The Belgian coach said that he thought highly of Chile.

“They are a very good South American team with good players. You can compare them with Colombia.

Influential defender

"If we do not raise our game on Sunday, we will have problems. But that is why losing against Colombia is not only bad, it will show us where to improve.

“Although the priority is qualifying for the World Cup, we are going to the Confederations Cup with some ambition.

"We are not saying we are going to win, but we want to play well and then see where we need to improve for the World Cup qualifiers.”

Broos gave players such as André Onana and André-Frank Zambo Anguissa a second chance after they withdrew from the Africa Cup of Nations squad at the end of last year.

However, there is no place in the team for Liverpool’s Joël Matip, Eric Maxim Choupo- Moting or Allan Nyom, all of whom turned down an invitation to play in Gabon earlier this year.

Last friendly

The coach will also be without influential defender Ambroise Oyongo, who had to undergo a knee operation after injuring himself in Cameroon’s previous warm-up match against Morocco, which they won 1-0.

The Montreal Impact player will be out for several months and Broos said that they would miss him.

Cameroon’s opponents in the Otkrytiye Arena in Moscow will also go into the match after a defeat in their last friendly.

La Roja gave away a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 in Romania after having Gary Medel sent off shortly after the half-hour mark.

Former Spanish international Juan Antonio Pizzi, however, can call on several top-class players, including Arsenal striker Alexis Sánchez or midfielder Arturo Vidal.

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