Cameroon suffered a one-nil defeat against Senegal on Monday, making it two defeats in two games this international break.
Under normal circumstances, the international break should be an opportunity for any Coach in including Rigobert Song to evaluate the level of his squad and analyse the progress that has been made since he arrived, and in what areas the team needs improvement. It is a period to work towards the development of a playing system based on his philosophy and vision of football. Yet last night’s Cameroon vs Senegal friendly match in Lens, France; left
us with many more questions and uncertainties three months before the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Côte D’Ivoire.
The fact that Cameroon and Senegal have been drawn in the same pool in the Group phase of the AFCON added more spice to this friendly encounter.
It should be noted, however, that there was nothing friendly about last night’s match. From the kick-off , Coach Aliou Cisse of Senegal had lined up his best XI players who were crowned African Champions in 2022, which included the likes of Khalidou Koulibaly, Sadio Mane, Pape Saar, Edouard Mendy and the others.
From the blast of the referees whistle Senegal started systematically applying substantial pressure on the Cameroon team.
They imposed a sustained pace and an enormous physical impact and we could immediately see that the Indomitable Lions were being tamed, finding very hard to keep up with the infernal tempo imposed by the Senegalese. It is therefore very logical that after the ninety minutes Senegal won just 1-0 though it could have been worst.
Senegal’s domination was so dazzling that many Cameroonians since Monday on various social media platforms, and woke up the next day asking themselves the same question ,whether Coach Rigobert Song is really the right man for the job, to bring back the long awaited glory of our football.
The were all left in bewilderment as never had they seen such a weak Cameroon team. The performance of the not so indomitable Lions was absolutely shambolic, poor in quality of play, as they were physically eaten up in the middle of the field by a Senegal team operating like a well oiled machinery Song seemed completely overwhelmed by the events as one would have expected him to give more playing time to some young, long-toothed Lions, but he himself seemed apparently seduced by the polished play of the Senegalese, and was following the unfolding of events more as a spectator than an actor.
It is true that the absence of senior players like Eric Maxim Choupo, Zambo Anguissa, Fai Collins and Nouhou Tolowould perhaps have changed the situation, but the fact remains that the Lions did not offer anything in the game. But one can hardly put a finger on any substantial quest of the Manager during the entire game.
Instead, there are lots of inconsistencies in his choices and selection that one is puzzled if there is really a desire to develop this team to play a certain brand of football which is attractive and competitive enough to give hope to the fans.
We all know that national team players don’t have much time to be together and work on cohesion and to find the right combinations that allow complementary players to be aligned in different positions, to ease a free flowing play style.
So why play an instrumental Central Defender like Jean Charles Casteletto (one of the pillars of this team) out of position in such an important game which is geared towards preparing for the AFCON showdown?
Why bench an up and coming promising defender like Wooh Christopher who is supposed to be combining with Casteletto to seal their partnership even further?
Why not select a full-back like Malcolm Bokele, or a striker like Frank Magri, Olivier Kemen yet sit them on the bench for most of the game or not play them at all, whereas friendly matches are meant to test such players and help them build their confidence?
The midfield of Cameroon presents a lot of deficiencies. There is a glaring lack of creative players capable of putting their foot on the ball and regulate the tempo of the game. Kunde Malong was left alone to recover balls, but his goodwill was not enough. Gael Ondoua, his companion in the midfield, had difficulty following the tempo imposed by Namptaly Mendy and Pape Saar who combined wonderfully and above all dominated the ball to undermine our midfield players and causing them to chase shadows for most part of the game.
The satisfaction of the day on the Cameroonian side was the revelation of left-full back Darling Yongwa. The young lad demonstrated a lot of technical quality in his offensive play. He was impactful on the in attacking phases on the left lane, something that Nohou Tolo is sorely lacking. His defensive repositioning was impressive immediately after losing the ball.
As usual since the arrival of Coach Song, we have a lot of problems in restarting and getting the ball out of defense for the midfielders. We are not dynamic, and there is little movement to give passing solutions to the one holding the ball. When the passing lanes are blocked we are literally unable to make short passes to advance the ball through the midfield, either by passing through the flanks or finding the depths through passes that break the lines to find the attackers in depth.
There is lot’s of room for improvement especially with the return of certain key players, but above all there must be a genuine and sincere desire to win. This not by divine ancestral incantations , riddles, and wise sayings. There should be an effort towards building a team that relies on the strength on each player, rather than their weaknesses. But above all, the philosophy of play of the Manager has to be well known to the players so that they understand clearly what is expected of them.
When the right efforts are made, towards the right direction, with all the players I mean the very best players representing Cameroon, like Michael Ngadeu, Hongla and even Fai if he is competitive again then we can aspire towards a brighter future for our National team, if not, AFCON 2023 might just be another safari trip yet again.
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