WC Countdown: Group E – Cameroon

After Canada in group E, our second team out is Cameroon.

The Indomitable Lionesses as they are called are returning to the world stage after their first World Cup endeavour back in 2015, where they beat Ecuador and Switzerland and lost to Japan in the group stages. They were allowed to advance to the last 16, where they were kicked out by China. This time around they’re up to similar tough opponents in their group, facing Canada, Netherlands and New Zealand.

Cameroon’s road to qualification in the Africa Women Cup of Nation was quite straightforward. They flew through the group stages, breezing by Mali and Algeria and drawing with Ghana before being halted on their way by Nigeria, who have stood in their way in the two previous Cup of Nation editions. The game ended 0-0 and had to go to penalties, where Nigeria won. Cameroon then had to go up against Mali again for the third place spot and the last qualification spot, which they claimed with a 4-2 victory.

Gabrielle Onguene is one of the big names in the team. She showed what she’s made of at the 2015 World Cup and with a great performance, she managed to help her team through to the last 16. The attacking midfielder has grown into a top name in African football and contributed two goals on their road to qualification. Christine Manie is another name to remember. She has been the one sending the team to the World Cup on both of the occasions that they’ve qualified, thanks to crucial goals scored in overtime, against the Ivory Coast back in 2014 and then again against Mali in 2018. She also contributed Cameroon’s only goal in their 1-1 draw with Ghana which, for a defender is pretty good.

Cameroon women's national team
The lionesses in a huddle. Source

Alain Djeumfa coaches the senior side, after taking over from Joseph Ndoko. Djeumfa, former fitness coach in the team, had to step in as manager in January 2019, after Ndoko had already led the team through the qualifying stages. It is not the first team that Djeumfa has coached, as he’s been with several top-flight clubs before, and on top of that, he’ll not be alone in France, as he’ll be assisted by the former Cameroon captain Bernadette Anong.

Djeumfa has not really had much time to implement his own playing style on the team just yet, and it does not get easier as the Cameroon football association, Fecafoot, have difficulties prioritising and setting up friendlies for the Lionesses to give them enough time to prepare ahead of the World Cup.

“The girls haven’t been consistent in their preparation. Training should’ve started a long time ago, not now. There should’ve been more friendlies. Look at Nigeria and South Africa, they have played several international matches and now both sides are in the Cyprus Cup. We have to do better.

“The Lionesses have a good coach in Alain Djeumfa but things aren’t made easy for him. The women’s league hasn’t started and it’s difficult for him to scout for players.

“We have to be pragmatic. I fear with such poor preparation we may have a poor output in France,” Victorine Fomum, former footballer turned analyst, said to BBC Sport.

After a winter and early spring without many signs of friendlies, the Lionesses managed to get to China and play the inaugural Wuhan International Tournament. The four teams in the tournament were China, who won, Cameroon, who finished runners up, Croatia and Russia. Cameroon ended up playing one game against Croatia, which they won, that in turn advanced them to the final against China, which was a 1-0 loss.

That’s a bit on Cameroon! Going into their second World Cup, they’ll be looking to better their results of ending up in the last 16. Can they make it? Let us know in the comment section below.

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