The news of the resignation of Cameroon head coach Otto Pfister couldn’t have come at a worse time. The veteran German tactician left a week before the Indomitable Lions, smarting from a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Togo, were preparing to face another wounded lion.
The Atlas Lions of Morocco who were beaten 2-1 at home by continental minnows Gabon in the first group matches played in March.
Pfister quit while accompanying the squad to their training camp in Belgium and was replaced by former national goalkeeper, Thomas Nkono, who, at the time of his appointment, was the national goalkeepers’ tactician.
The battle ahead of Cameroon is indeed difficult, but it is not insurmountable. The team has a legion of able talents who can easily turn the tables on a bad start when they assemble at home on Sunday. Before he resigned, Pfister had called to camp a new group of youngsters who will now be tasked with taking Cameroon into the future.
Morocco missed the last World Cup in Germany by a whisker. A win against Roger Lemerre’s Tunisia would have been enough to have the Atlas Lions feature in the World Cup. But the two teams had to settle for a 2-2 draw and Morocco missed out on the world football extravaganza.
Now Lemerre is the one overseeing the dreams of Morocco, who are aiming to qualify for the first World Cup held on African soil. They started the campaign on a false footing after they went down 2-1 against Gabon, who were supposed to be the group’s whipping boys.
The Frenchman’s charges have two tough matches in a space of two weeks that will determine where the group title is headed. After tussling with Cameroon, the Atlas Lions will prepare for a showdown with Togo in a fortnight.
To bolster the defence, which has been marshalled by the aging Rigobert Song, Newcastle United defender Sebastien Bassong was drafted into the team and is expected to make his debut for Cameroon this Sunday. The 22-year-old centre-back is a former France Under-21 international, but because he didn’t play a competitive game for the French juniors, he has a licence to play for Cameroon, a country where his parents hail from.
Young Monaco-based defender Nicolas Nkoulou will likely replace the injured Andre Bikey. The Indomitable squad will miss the agility of Arsenal’s Alex Song, who has forced his way into the midfield of the Premier League club. Song is suspended for three matches, hence he will not feature.