Cameroon on Monday named a 23-man squad for this month’s international friendly against Kuwait in Kuwait City.
Interim head coach Alexandre Belinga made the squad public on Monday during a press conference at the headquarters of the Cameroon Football Federation in Yaounde.
Three goalkeepers, seven defenders, seven midfielders and six forwards were called up for the game scheduled for March 25 in Kuwait.
The game marks the start of Cameroon’s on field preparations for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations which they will host in June next year.
The Return of the Prodigal sons
As expected, Alexandre Belinga has handed calls to Idriss carlos kameni, Choupo Moting, Kana Biyick, Andre Onana and Allan Nyom who had shut the door behind them due to off field issues.
Their return was widely expected last week following a « reconciliation meeting » held last week in the French capital Paris with the President of the Normalisation Committee Dieudonné Happi.
« The national team belongs to Cameroonians and we will work hard to see that those who are eligible (to play for the team) are called up, » interim coach Alexandre Beling said as he justified their return.
Some of these players had either turned their backs on the team or been ignored by the various coaches who have have recently led the national team.
It is the case with goalkeeper Idris Carlos Kameni who returns to the fold after almost two years in the cold following a misunderstanding first with Volker Finke and later with Hugo Broos. His last appearance was coincidentally handed by Alexandre Belinga back in November 2015 for a World Cup qualifiier against Niger.
The 34-year old will battle for a spot between the sticks alongside Andre Onana who is equally returning after a self-imposed exile from the team. The Ajax Amsterdam shot stopper (27games played this season) turned his back on the Indomitable Lions after being frustrated with his back up role to Fabrice Ondoua.
Onana’s case was one too many for former coach Hugo Broos to handle. The Belgian was unable to properly deal with Eric Maxim Choupo Moting’s tantrums as he most often resorted to a public hairdryer treatment of the player. . The decision to strip the Stoke City forward of the vice captaincy as well as drop him altogether from the team did not sit down well with the player. Choupo’s place in the team was even questioned after feigning an injury just moments coming on to the pitch in their heavy World Cup qualifier drubbing against Nigeria in Oyo. Images of the striker banging a brace for Stoke City compounded his miseries as question marks were raised on his commitments for the national cause further straining his relationship with the technical bench.
Like Choupo, Kana Biyik has never really settled into the national fold since switching allegiance from his country of birth(France) to play for his parents’ country(Cameroun). Back up to Nicolas Nkoulou and Aurelien Chedjou, his frustration was compounded by his omission from the 2014 World Cup squad. Kana Biyik could not hold back as he lashed at the management of the team and well as officials of the football federation before shutting the door behind him.
The exit cue will later be followed by fellow defender Allan Nyom who turned his back on the team before the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations following several run ins with management and authorities. The West Bromwich Albion defender maintained his stance even after post Afcon advances from the federation.
The new comers
The return of these « forgotten men » has overshadowed maiden calls handed to Stephane Bahoken (Strasbourg-France), Leandre Tawamba(Partizan Belgrade-Serbia) and Ngah Fabrice (Difaâ El Jadida –Morocco).
Ngah Fabrice would be hoping for a taste of international football after bidding his time with Moroccan side Difaâ El Jadida. The 20-year old left-footed defender has chipped in with 12 matches at the back this season for the Moroccan side and would be bidding his time in the learning curve when he joins up with his new team mates in two weeks.
On his part, Leandre Tawamba rounded off a brilliant weekend with a goal in Partizan Belgrade’s two nil victory over against Čukarica taking his tally to nine league goals for the season. His red hot form in front of goal both in the league and Europa League this season has earned him a maiden call to the national setup. In addition to the regular strikers, Tawamba would have to compete with another new comer Stephane Bahoken in order to lead the line for Cameroon against Kuwait on March 25.
Goalkeepers :ONDOA FABRICE, (Sevilla-Spain), ONANA Andre,(Ajax-Holland ), KAMENI Carlos, (Fenerbahçe-Turkey)
FAI Colins, (Standard de Liège- Belgium), EBOA EBOA Félix, (FC Guingamp-France) NGAH Fabrice, (Jadidi DifaHassani-Morocco), NGADEU Ngadjui, (Slavia Prague Czech) TEIKEU adolphe, (FC Sochaux-France), YAYA Banana, (Panionios-Greece), KANA BIYICK Jean Armel, (Kayserispor-Turke)
ZAMBO Anguissa, (Olympique Marseille France) SIANI sebastien, (FC Anwerp-Belgium) NYOM Allan, (West Bromwich Albion FC England), MANDJECK Georges, (FC Metz-France), BASSOGOG Christian, (Henan-China), NJIE Clinton, (Olympique Marseille-France) MOUKANDJO Benjamin,( FC Jiangsu Suning-Chine)
OLINGA Fabrice, (FC Moucron-Belgium), ABOUBAKAR Vincent, FC Porto (Portugal), BAHOKEN Stéphane, (R. Strasbourg-France), CHOUPO MOTING Eric-Maxim, (Stoke city-England), TOKO Ekambi,( FC Angers -France), TAWAMBA Leandre, (Partizan Belgrade-Serbia)