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.

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
He 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
He was voted African keeper of the Century ahead of teammate Thomas N'Kono.  He was also one of the best keepers in the 1980's.  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 several top-level clubs including Marseille, Bordeaux and eventually ending his playing career with Saint-Étienne.
Joseph-Antoine Bell
GK:  Jacques Songo'o
He 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.  Although he was younger than Bell and N'Kono, 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
He was a 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.  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
François Omam-Biyik's brother.  He played in two WC Finals in 1990 and 1994.  He was remembered for receiving a red card in the upset win against Argentina at the opening game of WC 1990. He started a professional 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
He was a key player for Cameroon since making his debut as a teenager.  He has played at a record eight Africa Cup of Nations tournaments and served as captain in five.  He went to four WC Finals from 1994 to 2010, missing the 2006.  He is Cameroon's cap record holder.  Song started his professional career with Metz and helped the club to win the Coupe de la Ligue in 1996. In 1998, he joined Salernitana. In January 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
He was a member of both 1982 and 1990 WC team.  He scored against England in the quarterfinal of the 1990 WC 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
Kalla earned 63 caps for Cameroon.  He played in three WC 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

CB: Stephen Tataw
He was the captain of the Indomitable Lions at the WC Finals in 1990 where they reached the quaterfinal. He was considered to be the Cameroonian defender ever.  At the club level, he played with Tonnerre Yaounde from 1988 to 1991, and for Olympic Mvolyé from 1992 to 1994. 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
Capped 24 times, Benoît Assou-Ekotto 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.  Born in France, he chose to represent Cameroon in football.

DM: Alex Song
Alex Song's father died when he was young.  His cousin Rigobert brought him up as his second father. He started his career with Bastia. He played 5 seasons as a key player for Arsenal before transferring to Barcelona.   He played in two WC 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
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.Geremi 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 and a gold medal at the 2000 Olympics.
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 had 63 caps at the time of his death. He was a part of the World Cup team in 1994 and 2002.  He played professionally for to Canon Yaoundé, West Ham, Lens and Manchester City.

AM: Theophile Abega
Nicknamed "Doctor", he captained the Indomitable Lions and won the Africans' Nation Cup in 1984 as Cameroon's captain.  Abega played club football for Canon Yaoundé where 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 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 in France. 

FW:  Eugène N'Jo Léa
He left Cameroon for France to study in 1951.  He ended up playing for St. Etienne and other French clubs while maintaining his studies.  At St.Etienne, he won the Lique 1 title while finishing as the league second highest scorer.  He co-found the National Union of Professional Footballers in 1961.

ST: Samuel Mbappe Leppe
Nicknamed "Marshall".  He 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.

ST: Roger Milla
He became an international star after he scored 4 goals at the WC Finals in 1990 as Cameroon reached the quarterfinal.  Many people credited Cameroon for putting African football on the map. Then, in 1994, he became the oldest goal-scorer in WC history when he scored against Russia.  he was voted the African Player of the Century.  He played professionally in France during his prime.
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
He 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
He 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 
E'too started his career with the academy of Real Madrid.  He later played 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.  He won the African Player of the Year award a record four times: in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2010.  
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 was blessed with great keepers.  Carlos Kameni could easily make any of the other African All-time teams.  He is easilt 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.
-- 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.
-- Cyrille Makanaky did well at the WC 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.
-- Samuel Mbappe Leppe was also a pionner footballer.

Starting lineup

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