Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cameroon Greatest All-time 23 member team

Cameroon 1990
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

This is my selection of a 23 member all-time team for Cameroon.  The number 23 was chosen because it is the official squad size for the World Cup Finals.
Africa All-Time Team GhanaCameroonNigeriaSouth AfricaTunisia
AlgeriaMoroccoEgyptIvory CoastSenegal,
North Africa
The Rest of Africa(excluding Cameroon, Senegal, Ghana, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Nigeria and North Africa).

Cameroon was best remembered for its "Cinderella" run during the 1990 World Cup Finals.  Roger Milla became a World Cup icon by scoring 4 goals as a 38 years old.  However, the Indomitable Lions actually put African football into the world map even before that.  Eight years earlier, they finished undefeated at the WC Finals in Spain.  They are also a major force in African football.  They won 4 African cup of Nations and qualified for every WC Finals since 1990, except in 2006.

If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament.  The team is not an All-Star team. I tried to be as realistic as possible.   A few of the players are selected for tactical reasons at the expense of more famous players.
African Nations' Cup Champion 1984

GK: Thomas N'Kono
Thomas N'Kono was among the best keepers from the 1980's and probably the most famous goalkeeper ever from Africa.  He played in three WC Finals.  Gianluigi Buffon was inspired by him and named his son Thomas after him.  After playing in his country with Canon Yaoundé and Tonnerre Yaoundé he moved to Spain with RCD Español in 1982. , He received the France Football African Footballer of the Year award in 1982 and in 1979.

GK: Joseph-Antoine Bell
Joseph-Antoine Bell was voted African keeper of the Century. His international career was limited by living in the same generation as N'Kono.  He was on three WC teams, but only started his last WC Finals in 1994. In a 20-year career, he played in his native Cameroon as well as in Côte d'Ivoire and Egypt before moving to France, where he played for Marseille, Bordeaux and eventually ending his playing career with Saint-Étienne.
Joseph-Antoine Bell
GK:  Jacques Songo'o
Jacques Songo'o was voted the 6th African best keeper of the Century behind Bell and N'Kono.  He appeared in over 200 games for Deportivo La Coruna and won Ricardo Zamora award for 1995-1996.  His international career was limited by playing behind two of the best keepers in African history.  He was on the WC team in 1990, 1994, 1998 and 2002.  He only started at the WC Finals in 1998.

RB:  Lauren Etame Mayer
Lauren  was known for his career with Arsenal in England. He was part of Arsenal's "Invincibles", a title given to Arsenal's team that went undefeated team in the Premiership.  He was named in the PFA Team of the Year that season.  He also played in Spain. With Cameroon, he won two African Cup of Nations. He also won an Olympic Gold Medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics with Cameroon.

RB: André Kana-Biyik
Andre is François Omam-Biyik's brother.  He played in two World Cup Finals in 1990 and 1994.  He was remembered for receiving a red card in the upset win against Argentina at the opening game of World Cup 1990. He started a career in 1986 with Diamant Yaoundé. From 1988 to 1994 he played in France Ligue 1 with FC Metz and Le Havre AC.

CB/RB:  Rigobert Song
Rigobert Song was a key player for Cameroon since making his debut as a teenager.  He has played at a record 8 Africa Cup of Nations tournaments and served as captain in 5.  He went to 4 WC Finals from 1994 to 2010, missing the 2006.  He is Cameroon's cap record holder.  Song started his career with Metz. In 1998, he joined Salernitana. In 1999, he left Italy to start successive stints with Liverpool, West Ham United and 1. FC Köln, Lens, Galatasaray, and Trabzonspor.
Rigobert Song
CB:  Emmanuel Kunde
Emmanuel Kunde was a member of both 1982 and 1990 World Cup team.  He scored against England in the quarterfinal of the 1990 World Cup finals.  He won the 1984 and 1988 African Nations Cups. Kundé scored the winning goal in the 1988 African Nations Cup final against Nigeria with a penalty kick.

CB: Raymond Kalla
Raymond Kalla earned 63 caps for Cameroon.  He played in three World Cup Finals: 1994, 1998 and 2002.  He played in three different countries. He first played for Panachaiki F.C. in Greece then Spain's CF Extremadura, where he competed in both major divisions. In 2002, after Extremadura dropped another category to the third level, Kalla signed with VfL Bochum.

RB/CB: Stephen Tataw
Stephen Tataw was the captain of Cameroon at the 1990 World Cup Finals where they reached the quaterfinal. He was considered to be the Cameroonian greatest defender ever.  At the club level, he played with Tonnerre Yaounde from 1988 to 1991, and for Olympic Mvolyé from 1992 to 1994. In 1995, he then joined Japanese side Tosu Futures where many viewed him as the first African-born professional player in Japan.
Stephen Tataw
LB: Pierre Wome
Wome is one of eleven players to have played in the top division in Italy, Spain, England and Germany.   He played for Brescia, Roma, Fulham, Bologna, RCD Espanyol, F.C. Internazionale Milano and SV Werder Bremen, FC Köln, etc.  He won consecutive African Cup of Nations titles in 2000 and 2002 and the Olympic gold medal in 2000.

LB:  Benoît Assou-Ekotto
Benoît Assou-Ekotto was born in France. He chose to represent Cameroon in football after rejecting callus by the French youth team.  He was capped 24 times between 2009 and 2014, He was a member of Cameroon's World Cup team in 2010 and 2014.  He started his career with Lens.  He has played 7 seasons with Tottenham Hotspurs.  He also played for QPR, St. Etienne and Metz.  

DM: Alex Song
Alex Song's father died when he was young.  His cousin Rigobert Song who also played for Cameroon brought him up as his second father. He started his career with Bastia in 2004. He played 5 seasons as a key player for Arsenal between 2006 and 2012 before transferring to Barcelona.   He played in two World Cup Finals in 2010 and 2014.  He was called up for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations and was the only Cameroonian named in the Team of the Tournament.
Alex Song
CM: Geremi Njitap
Geremi Njitap began his career in Cameroon and then, Turkey.  He played three seasons with Real Madrid, where he won two Champion' League titles in 1999-2000 and 2001-2002.  He also played for Newcastle United and Chelsea. He earned 118 caps for Cameroon from 1996 to 2010, scoring 13 goals. He was a member of their squad for seven Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, winning in 2000 and 2002, as well as the World Cup in 2002 and 2010.
CM:  Marc-Vivien Foe
Marc-Vivien Foe died of a heart-related issue during the semi-final of the Confederation Cup between Colombia and Cameroon in 2003.  He was awarded the Bronze Star at the tournament. He had 63 caps at the time of his death. He was a part of the World Cup team in 1994 and 2002.  He also won two African Nations' Cup in 2000 and 2002. He played professionally for to Canon Yaoundé, West Ham, Lens and Manchester City.

AM: Theophile Abega
Nicknamed "Doctor", Theophile Abega won the Africans' Nation Cup in 1984 as Cameroon's captain.  With Canon Yaoundé, he won the 1978 African Cup of Champions Clubs, 1980 African Cup of Champions Clubs and 1979 African Cup Winners' Cup titles as well as four Cameroonian championships and five Cameroonian Cups. Later in his career, he moved to France to play for Toulouse FC before finishing in Switzerland with Vevey.
Theophile Abega
AM: Frédéric N'Doumbé
Frédéric N'Doumbé was born in 1935.  At home, he was associated with Caïman Douala. In France, he played for Le Havre, Montpellier and AS Saint -Etienne in the 1960's. He won Ligue 1 titles in 1964, 1967, 1968 and 1969 all with  l'AS Saint-Étienne. He is one of the first Cameroonian to play professionally in France.  His daughter is the pop singer Norma Ray.

FW:  Eugène N'Jo Léa
Eugène N'Jo Léa left Cameroon for France to study in 1951.  He ended up playing for St. Etienne and other French clubs while maintaining his studies.  With St.Etienne, he won the Lique 1 title while finishing as the league second highest scorer.  Over there, he played with Kees Rijvers and Rachid Mekloufi.  He co-found the National Union of Professional Footballers in 1961 with  Just Fontaine and Jacques Bertrand.

ST: Samuel Mbappe Leppe
Nicknamed "Marshall", Samuel Mbappe Leppe was a pioneer in Cameroon's football.  He led his club side Oryx Bellois Douala to win the first ever African Champions Cup in 1965.  He was the first real star player in Cameroon.  Stade Samuel Mbappé Léppé in Douala, Camera is named after him.

ST: Roger Milla
Roger Milla became an international star after he scored 4 goals at the World Cup Finals in 1990 as Cameroon reached the quarterfinal.  He was already 38 years old. Many people credited Cameroon for putting African football on the map. Then, in 1994, he became the oldest goal-scorer in World Cup history when he scored against Russia.  He was voted the African Player of the Century.  He was the African Footballer of the Year in 1976 and 1990.
Roger Milla
ST: Jean Manga Onguene
Born in 1946, Jean Manga Onguene was the 1980 African Footballer of the Year.  H played in two African Cup of Nations: 1970 and 1972.  He represented Cameroon from 1967 to 1981. In 2006, he was selected by CAF as one of the best 200 African football players of the last 50 year.  He spent his whole career at Canon Yaoundé in Cameroon.

ST: Patrick M'Boma
Patrick M'Boma helped the Indomitable Lions to win the Gold medal at the 2000 Olympics.  He won two African Cup of Nations: 2000 and 2002. This led him into winning the African Player of the Year Award in 2000.  He was at one point the all-time leading scorer for Cameroon.  He had played professionally in Japan, France, Italy, Libya and England. 

ST: François Omam-Biyik
François Omam-Biyik became a national hero when he scored the goal that beat Argentina in the 1990 World Cup Finals.  He also went to the World Cup Finals in USA and France. He had success with different French clubs before moving to Marseille in the summer of 1992. He only played one match, and was transferred to Lens in October 1992. After a few years he continued his career in Mexico with Club América and Puebla F.C.

ST: Samuel E'too 
Samuel E'too started his career with the academy of Real Madrid, but he made his name with Mallorca. He was a part of the famous "REM" line at Barcelona where he won two Champions' league titles.   He moved to Inter Milan in 2009 and won a third Champions' league in 2009-2010.  In 2011, he joined Anzhi Makhachkala in Russia. He won the African Player of the Year award a record four times: in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2010. He was capped 118 caps with Cameroon.
Samuel E'too
Honorable Mention
Carlos Kameni, Cyrille Makanak, Jean-Pierre Tokoto, Charles Lea, Ibrahim Aoudo, Paul Nlend, Eugène N'Jo Léa.

Squad Explanation
-- Cameroon's World Cup in 1990 made history with African football.  From that team, I selected 7 players.  They are Joseph-Antoine Bell, Jacques Songo'o, Roger Mila, Stephen Tataw, François Omam-Biyik, Andre Omam-Biyik and Emmanuel Kunde.
-- Cameroon won the Gold Medal at the 2000 Olympics with their under-23 team. From that team, I selected 8 players: Patrick M'Boma, Pierre Wome, Rigobert Song, Raymond Kalla, Geremi, Samuel Et'oo, Lauren and Marc-Vivien Foe.  Carlos Kameni made honourable mention.  They outnumbered the 1990 team largely because the players were given more opportunities and exposure in than the previous generations.  They got to play in the bigger Europe leagues.  For example, Stephen Tataw only played in Africa and Japan.
-- Cameroon was blessed with great keepers.  Carlos Kameni could easily make any of the other African All-time teams.  He is easily ranked in the top 10 greatest African keeper, but I could not find space for him.  I gave the third keeper spot to Jacques Songo'o.
-- Of course, Thomas N'Kono is considered to be Cameroon's greatest goalkeeper.  He inspired Gianluigi Buffon of Italy to play goalkeeper.  Joseph-Antoine Bell was named "African Goalkeeper of the Century" by IFFHS, as part of their "Century Elections" ahead N'Kono. 
-- Samuel Mbappe Leppe, Eugène N'Jo Léa and Frédéric N'Doumbé are pioneers of the game.  Eugène N'Jo Léa also contributed as a founder of the trade reunion for footballers in France.
-- Lauren Etame Mayer only played for Cameroon 24 times in an era, where it is considered to be very small.  He was chosen for his club career with Arsenal.  He was among the best defender of his time and not many African defender could claim that.
-- Marc-Vivien Foe is also honoured here.
-- Cyrille Makanaky did well at the World Cup in 1990, but his club career was less impressive than the other candidates.
-- Benoît Assou-Ekotto established himself as good fullback playing in the Preimership, one of the top European leagues. 
-- I do not know if Eugène N'Jo Léa ever played for Camroon. I selected him because he was a pioneer for Cameroonian footballer playing in Europe. He played in France during the 1950's and 1960's.  
-- Rigobert Song is Cameroon all-time cap record holder. He went to 4 World Cup Finals.
-- Samuel Mbappe Leppe was also a pionner footballer.  He was Cameroon's first ever star player.
-- Samuel Etoo won the African Player of the Year award a record four times: in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2010.   Thomas N'Kono, Roger Mila, Patrick M'Boma, Jean Manga Onguéné, Théophile Abega and Théophile Abega also won the award.  M'Boma is the only winner of BBC African Footballer of the Year from Cameroon.
-- In his prime, Theophile Abega was considered as good as Roger Mila, but Roger Mila had better exposure with the 1990 World Cup Finals.
-- François Omam-Biyik scored the goal that upset Argentina in the 1990 World Cup Finals.  His club career was limited.
-- Rigobert Song is Alex Song's cousin. He was a second father to Alex. François Omam-Biyik and Andre Omam-Biyik are brothers.

Starting lineup

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