Colombia (3rd) 3 – 1 Kuwait (120th)
Oman (391st) 1 – 4 Algeria (15th )
El Salvador (82nd) 0 – 2 Argentina (2nd)
Indonesia (156th) 0 – 1 Cameroon (40th)
Thailand (165th) 2 – 3 Cameroon (40th)
Looking at these fixtures, you could asked yourself why should Lionel Messi, 4 times Ballon d’or winner should warmed the bench in El Savador in a friendly. Any good football coach knows how it is difficult to motivate a team against a much weaker (on paper) opponent. These games are not only for the sake of money but to force the team to produce some good football even though there is nothing to win and the opposition is not a football powerhouse.
I saw Radamel Falcao celebrating after he scored a penalty against Kuwait, like it was a Copa America game. For a team to gel, players have to spend time together, play together and win/loose together. Also playing a weaker opponent makes the team work on breaking down thigh and resolute defences. In big games like France - Brasil, there is too much hype and adrenalin for a trainer’s likes. The players are too distracted and tense to play according to the gaffer’s game plan.
However, it won’t hurt to see our lions to play more african teams during these FIFA dates. Cameroon plays non african teams less then 5% of all their official matches, so we should focus on getting our players ready for the opponents they are more likely to play in official encounters. So fixtures like these are very good examples, the ranking is irrelevant here.
Swaziland 1 – 3 South Africa
Gabon 4 – 3 Mali
Botswana 2 – 0 Lesotho
Egypt 2 – 0 Equatorial Guinea
Ivory Coast 2 – 0 Angola
Ivory Coast 1 – 1 Equatorial Guinea
Many will agree with me that Cameroon didn’t loose its ticket to the world cup 2006 when Wome missed the last minute spot kick against Egypt, but when we draw’ed against Soudan earlier. Cameroon is now a team in construction, and we should start on the right foot and give the opportunity to our players to play as much african teams as we can. I know economically it is not a sweet deal, but building a competitive team and future success should drive our choice of opponents. Moreover, almost all our players play abroad and are not familiar to the kind of football played on the continent. There is no point in playing 2 -2 against Germany and months later being unable to beat SierraLeone or Guinea.
Nevertheless I am very happy to see Njie back in the starting lineup, to see a home based player score a (winner) goal for the senior team. I don’t remember the last time I watched the lions come from two goals behind to win a match against any opposition. Also, we are sure to not loose points in the FIFA rankings that is heavily used in draws for major competitions. Finally the best of the best, we were finally able to win again in yellow shirts. Damn ! I have been waiting for that for so long... That color gave us our first ANC.