Cameroon coach Rigobert Song has unveiled a list of 34 preselected players for the next two qualifiers for the 2023 African Cup of Nations, with some surprises.
With the retirement of Inter goalkeeper Andre Onana and promising Udinese defender Enzo Ebosse out until the end of the season, Rigobert Song had several headaches to deal with. But the Cameroon coach did not take too much trouble. The 46-year-old coach, who has left to scout for new talent in Europe, opted for a reheated list of 34 pre-selected players for the double-header against Namibia on March 24 and 28 in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Michaël Ngadeu, the big absentee
Rejected for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, his return to the national team seemed obvious. But Michaël Ngadeu will have to watch his compatriots on television once again. Despite his 39 starts in all competitions this season (including European cups), the defender of La Gantoise (Belgium) is definitely not part of Song’s plans anymore. This leaves room for all sorts of interpretations. Already, before the Qatari World Cup, some tongues were wagging that the 32-year-old player would have been banned from the selection by the Federation’s leaders.
Carlos Baleba says no, Song says yes
Carlos Baleba was however clear. The Lille midfielder is not yet willing to wear the Cameroon jersey. It’s not really what I have in mind,” he said in an exchange with the LOSC website. For me, it is to play, to move forward, to progress, to improve my game. So no, at the moment, I’m not thinking about the selection”. And yet, Rigobert Song does not give up. A marketing operation or a bluff to justify his recent trip to Europe? It’s hard to know. However, Carlos Baleba is sticking to his decision.
Nkoulou, a preselection that raises brows
After a long retirement that lasted five years for the World Cup 2022, Nicolas Nkoulou is no longer a rock. The former Monegasque is in decline. Since the beginning of this year, the defender of Aris, in Greece, has played only 3 games out of 15 in all competitions. And yet, he could take advantage of Ebosse’s absence to be part of Rigobert Song’s final list of 25.
Harold Moukoudi, the returnee
We thought that the page Harold Moukoudi was definitively closed. But no! Disappointing during the African Cup of Nations (CAN) played in January and February 2022 in Cameroon, the name of the 25-year-old defender was no longer mentioned in the national team. A year later, he is back among the preselected Song. Although he played 17 games in the Greek first division this season, the AEK player remains an average defender who never managed to seize his chance in the national team. However, he has had some opportunities.
The 34 Indomitable Lions:
Goalkeepers: Simon Omossola (St-Eloi Lupopo), Epassy Devis (Al Ahba), Simon Ngapandouetnbu (Marseille), Marcelin Mbahbi (Gazelle de Garoua).
Defenders: Jean-Charles Castelletto (Nantes), Fai Collins (Al Tai), Darlin Yongwa (FC Lorient), Nouhou Tolo (Seattle Sounders, USA), Harold Moukoudi (AEK), Christopher Wooh (Rennes), Oumar Gonzalez (AC Ajaccio), Flavien Boyomo (Albacete), Nicolas Nkoulou (Aris), Martin Bokele (Bordeaux), Enzo Tchato (Montpellier).
Midfielders: Pierre Kunde Malong (Bochum), André-Franck Zambo Anguissa (Napoli), Martin Hongla (Vallodolid), Jean Onana (Lens), Olivier Ntcham (Swansea), Carlos Baleba (Lille), Steve Mvoue (Seraing), Eliott Njongoue (Chelsea), Olivier Kemen (Kayserispor).
Attackers: Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (Bayern Munich), Stephane Bahoken (Kasimpasa), Karl Toko Ekambi (Rennes), Moumi Ngamaleu (Dynamo Moscow), Vincent Aboubakar (Besiktas), Ignatius Ganago (Nantes), Daniel Namasso (FC Porto), Bryan Mbeumo (Brentford), Georges-Kevin Nkoudou (Besiktas), Jérôme Ngom (Beveren).