Home » Cameroon: How Emmanuel Mahop transformed from stopper to national team striker within three years

Cameroon: How Emmanuel Mahop transformed from stopper to national team striker within three years

by Lesley Ngwa
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Canon Sportif Yaounde needed four playing days in the ongoing Elite one championship Group A to record its first win of the season against UMS Loum. Emmanuel Mahop scored his first goal of the season through a penalty kick before Jean Hugues Eyango earned the Mekok Me Ngonda their first three points of the season with a 2-1 victory under coach Jean Baptiste Bisseck.

On December 21, 2022, while the Intermediate Lions were fine tuning their preparations for Algeria CHAN 2022 at the CAF Excellence Centre at Mbankomo, the friendly encounter against Canon Yaounde yielded a 2-1 victory for the Intermediate Lions. Emmanuel Mahop scored the only goal for Canon. The CHAN competition which held in Algeria from January 13 to February 4, 2023, included the participation of Alioum Saidou’s 25 Indomitable Lions without the Elite one’s top scorer at the time – Emmanuel Mahop who had 6 goals in 8 games having just returned from an adventure in Equatorial Guinea.

Sports journalist, Leger Tientcheu, remarked at the time that: “The notable absence of the Elite one’s top scorer, Emmanuel Mahop, for CHAN 2022, is bad publicity for our local football. FECAFOOT spits on its championship.”

Football changes fast and fast forward a few weeks later, fate has just smiled on the attacker who will replace injured Bayern Munchen striker Choupo-Moting (17 goals in 26 games in all competitions this season). Indeed, the Indomitable Lions will also be deprived partially of Vincent Aboubakar (red card against Brazil, Qatar World Cup 2022) but Choupo-Moting will be sorely missed after back pain forced him to skip the last two club games and national team action.

Emmanuel Mahop Dikongue from Ngodi-Bakoko is the current Elite one’s top scorer with 10 goals with Julien Kamta Fokou closely following at the end of the seventeenth day of the championship. His African experience with Akonangui FC of Equatorial Guinea playing the CAF Champions League preliminary rounds must have played a part in his call up to the national team set-up by coach Rigobert Song. But how did he get here?

  From goalkeeper to center-forward

After being a goalkeeper for a long time, Emmanuel Mahop decided to swap his gloves for the center-forward’s t-shirt. The former Fundesport trainee came back to Cameroon in August 2022 after his Equatorial Guinean adventure to showcase his new skills of putting the ball at the back of the net.

Football history is littered with goalscoring shot-stoppers such as Jorge Campos, Jose Luis Chilavert, Rogerio Ceni, Rene Higuita and Joseph Antoine Bell. But it rarely features footballers who have gone from goalkeeper to center-forward. The case of Emmanuel Mahop is a perfect example which illustrates that swapping positions on a football pitch is possible (versatility is highly encouraged by coaches nowadays) and become successful while they’re at it.

Trained at the Samuel Eto’o foundation where he encountered Andre Onana (Inter Milan) and Fabrice Ondoa (FK Auda), the 28-year-old passed through DAC 2000 and Union Douala. He was a revelation at Fovu Baham which earned him a vice-captain position in 2018, providing a human wall in front of the goal while being a regular feature of various teams of the week of the championship. “It’s the club where I had my best season. I was one of the captains and achieved good results,” he recalls.

To help his new club reach the elite of Equatorial Guinean football, he decided to abandon the goalposts to put himself in front. A life-changing choice validated by the club which had a hard time finding a striker. For the first season with the club, he helped them achieve promotion to the first division by finishing champion banging 33 goals in 15 games and earning him the title of top scorer in the second division. With these excellent statistics, Akonangui FC sounded him out and in two seasons with the club, scored 24 goals in 22 games, even playing in the CAF Champions League games.

The 28-year-old believes he uses his past as a goalkeeper to learn how to go about in front of goal. It’s an asset that he wants to use to make a name for himself in his home country. “I know a lot of people are going to look at me to see if I’m capable of doing what I was able to do in Equatorial Guinea and recently. I trust myself,” he says. A former U-20 international player with Cameroon in 2014, Emmanuel Mahopp knows that a good showing in the double AFCON qualifying header against Namibia will open the doors for selection in next year’s AFCON 2023 in Cote d’Ivoire.

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