Cameroon open Con­fed Cup cam­paign with match against Chile

CityPress - - Sport - PETER AUF DER HEYDE sports@city­press.co.za

It seems to be an un­for­tu­nate re­cur­rence that when­ever African teams par­tic­i­pate at 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.

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. For Cameroon, on the other hand, it will be the third time at the tour­na­ment, with a run­ner­sup 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. 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 ChoupoMot­ing or Al­lan Nyom, all of whom turned down an in­vi­ta­tion to play in Gabon ear­lier this year.

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.

PHOTO: SA­MUEL SHIVAMBU / BACKPAGEPIX

EC­STASY Cameroon cel­e­brates win­ning the 2017 Africa Cup of Na­tions tour­na­ment in Gabon in Fe­bru­ary

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