The head coach of the Indomitable lions, Rigobert Song Bahanag, this week, published a list of twenty-four players called up for the qualifiers to the 2026 fifa World Cup against The Mauritius and Libya on November 17 and 21 respectively.
Rigobert Song continues in his logic of pumping fresh blood into the team barely one month after losing one zero twice to Russia and Senegal in the last FIFA window.
Junior Tchamadeu, Leon Bell Bell and Faris Pemi Moubagna will represent the senior national team for the first as the lions will also use both games as a dress rehearsal for 2023 AFCON.
23-year-old striker Faris Pemi Moumbagna of Bodo Glimt in Norway has seduced the technical staff with exhilarating performance this season.
With 24 goals and eight assists in 40 matches in all competitions, it would be an understatement to say that the Cameroonian is having an incredible season. It is therefore a well merited call up for the former Binya Academy of Yaoundé who was also very eagerly awaited by fans of the Indomitable lions.
The absence of the majestic and imposing Fai Collins and the inconsistency of Olivier Mbaizo, meant the Indomitable lions right-back needed fresh blood and a different face. Coach Rigobert Song seems to have turned his focus on Junior Tchamadeu who plays his club football for English championship side, Stoke City.
Nevertheless, the 19 year old would have to fight for, and possibly seal his place in the perking order in that position which has experienced some makeshift duties from a natural centre back, Jean Charles Castelleto in the last few games. Tchamadeu who has played four Championship games this season and is also used with Stoke City’s U-21s, will need to bring his carefree spirit and determination to a position that demands nothing less.
But what about the firebrand Léon Bell Bell who plays for FC Magdeburg in Germany’s second tier? Perhaps, Cameroonians weren’t expecting a new left-back in this position too soon, but the 27 year old has been called up for the first time and now counts amongst a plethora of binationals who have opted to wear the green-red-yellow jersey at the expense of the country of birth.
Léon Bell Bell is perceived in Germany as an elegant, forward-looking player who is effective in both central defense and left back positions. With 13 games in 12 Bundesliga 2 rounds, 1 goal and 1 assist this season, he should provide Rigobert Song with more options. The most conspicuous absence from the list includes Eric Maxim Choupo Moting, Pierre Kunde Malong, Gaelle Ondoua and Nicolas Brice Moumi Ngamaleu, while the coach continues to snob Martin Hongla and the clubbless Faï Collins Ngoran who clearly remains the people’s choice in rightback. And so, the Indomitable lions kick off their qualifying campaign with these two matches that will also give the team a chance to test its mettle and readiness ahead of the upcoming African Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast.
With 61 days before the tournament, the team’s record under the new technical staff remains a dismal symptom of their decline, and their two previous performances have left nothing to be desired.
From the lows of last month’s defeats to Russia and Senegal through a fiery battle against Burundi in Garoua last September, Rigo and his contingent must quickly find that much needed firepower and balance characteristic of great footballing nations.
This is so because, consistency has eluded the team and the only consolation is that very many new players are being called up and tested whereas it is very easy to name the starting lineups of other power houses like Senegal, Morocco, Algeria, Nigeria and Egypt. With these teams cited, there is a genuine sense of togetherness, as everyone appears to get along with one another, no matter what domestic club they play for. Good has so far been barely good enough for the Indomitable lions squad as its quest to win a sixth Afcon could be marred by uncharacteristically mediocre and inconsistent play. Against Senegal for example, there was a general lack of commitment, no fighting spirit and above all, the midfield proved a major concern to the team’s work in progress. The team struggled in the absence of Zambo Anguissa and Olivier Kemen, poking Cameroonians into suggesting that it is time the coach brought in Carlos Baleba of Brighton in the English Premier League as well as Martin Hongla, who has been sidelined for reasons still unknown, but who has been mecurial with his club side Hellas Verona in the Italian Serie A.
The positive however is that Rigobert Song has shown calm leadership on and off the pitch, clarity of thinking and flexibility under pressure. Like he said during Wednesday’s press conference, he has always accomplished the mission assigned him to qualify the team for major competitions, but as seemingly impressive as those accomplishments might be, the fact remains that Cameroonians will be expecting the gaffer to do even better than just qualifying the lions.
With just two months remaining before the AFCON, the technical staff will have to quickly find cohesion and most especially an identity in the team’s play. For now, team cohesion and a clearly define identity are lacking and the coach has used a hundred and two players in 16 matches for just just four wins, seven defeats, five draws, 16 goals scored, 18 conceded and three clean sheets.
The task even becomes more complex and more enormous for the staff and entire team as there is a likelihood that reliable striker and captain Vincent Aboubakar could miss the two upcoming games due to a strain and bleeding in his right hamstring, an injury he suffered last Thursday night in the warm up to his team’s Europa conference league game.
And this is where the new striker, Faris Permi Moumbagna comes in with his huge hunger for goals. And so, it might be and it might not be an overstatement to say Cameroon’s never-ending conveyor belt of footballing talent appears to have thrown up its next superstar in the Bodo Glimt striker who earned his call-up to the senior national team thanks to his hard work. At only 23, he is by every standard the future of our national team. While the need to prepare the offensive relay of the team has never been this inevitable, collective play must reign supreme as it did the last time Cameroon won the AFCON in 2017 with very modest players who lived and worked together as team. For rather than individual brilliance it is often the collective dynamics that determines how best a team performs on the world’s greatest stage.
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