Confusion reigns in Cameroon’s previously staunch backline
Whilst the Cameroon defence was never anything that one could describe as ‘rigid’, for the duration of AFCON 2017, it did at least suggest some solidity, as they continually beat back teams away from their goal. Tonight, it seemed that they left their defending boots at home, instead choosing to do their finest Ivory Coast circa. 2012 impression that they could muster, with some very open-all-hours defending.
With Chile flooding through them for the majority of the first half, it didn’t look like Cameroon would be able to hold on for too long. Regularly outflanked by the movement of Eduardo Vargas and basic failure to track on-rushing midfielders, it was the fastidious shopkeeper Fabrice Ondoa that kept the customers from pillaging the shop for free, proving once again why he is the country’s number one.
Broos with much to think about
Despite picking up in the second half and eventually getting themselves together, one must wonder why there was such a departure from the effective rearguard we saw in Gabon. Whilst the lack of interest in this Fifa-enforced vanity tournament is undoubtedly at play, plus the greater calibre of opposition faced in Chile, whether Hugo Broos’ mootings about heading elsewhere influenced matters remain to be seen.
Regardless, without that reliability behind them, it did make it slightly more difficult for Cameroon’s merry band of jinkers and jivers to inflict chaos at the other end of the pitch. Vincent Aboubakar had little to feed off other than occasional long balls from the centre halves, though spirit can be taken in Christian Bassogog’s energetic performance down the right, suggesting that AFCON 2017 wasn’t a flash in the pan for the Player of the Tournament.
Hugo Broos will be no doubt mulling it all over now. Whatever the case, he could do with a strategy so their objective overall weaknesses don’t receive too much attention against the world’s best.
Cameroon a class below
At AFCON the Indomitable Lions surpassed their wildest expectations, galvanising themselves to morph from a rabble to a skyscraper. Overcoming this Chile side, though, was a storey too far. Was it just a bad day at the office? Or were they facing a team so fine-tuned, so superior that it’s unfair to be too hard on them? After all, the core of the Chile team, comprising of players such as Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal, Gary Medel and others, have been playing together for nearly a decade winning back-to-back Copa Americas and thwarting Lionel Messi in the process.
Time will tell about the real quality of this Cameroon team. As commendable as their triumph in February was, that they are, on paper, one of the worst teams to win an AFCON is indisputable. That they lost by only 2 goals is misleading when you consider the general direction of play. The lack of poise and technique through the centre was clear for all to see. On this evidence, Lotfi Wada’s assertion that they are a bunch of 100 metre runners and bodyguards doesn’t seem so far fetched.