While most of Europe’s leagues were inactive during the Christmas and New Year holidays, the English league was in full swing with 4 matches being played during that period in the Premier League. The Scottish, Greek and Israeli leagues also saw action during the holiday period.
Boxing day, the day following Christmas, is traditionally a day reserved for football in England. It also was a day with plenty of action for Cameroon’s players. In the Premier League, Lauren started at right back and had a pretty easy time of it as Arsenal beat cross town rivals Fulham 2-0. In Middlesbrough’s 2-0 loss to Birmingham, Boro striker Mark Viduka injured his hamstring so he went off after 23 minutes and was replaced by Joseph Desire Job. Job, unfortunately, did not provide much to his team’s attack. Timothee Atouba started at left side midfield for Tottenham in their 2-0 win over Norwich. Atouba stuck to his task but was eventually subbed out after 65 minutes due to a foot injury and has not played since then. Portsmouth’s new manager gave a rare start to Valery Mezague in central midfield of the club’s 1-0 win over Crystal Palace. Mezague, however, did not show well and was described by the British press as having “wasted his opportunity”. He was subbed out after 55 minutes of that match. In the 2nd level league, the Championship, Franco-Cameroonian centerback Matthias Doumbe started for Plymouth in their 2-1 win over Queen’s Park Rangers.
Two days later Joseph Desire Job had his big match. Job started at forward for Middlesbrough in his club’s 2-0 win over Norwich. Both Middlesbrough goals were scored by Job in the 52nd and 54th minutes. On his first goal, Job received a low cross and left footed the ball into the net. On his second goal, he beat the offside trap, ran in alone against the Norwich goalie and scored. Job now has scored 4 goals in the league along with another one in the UEFA Cup. Geremi also made a holiday appearance, coming on as a sub in midfield in the 81st minute of league leader Chelsea’s 1-0 victory over Portsmouth. Lauren also played at right back in Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Newcastle and gave his usual competent display. It was a tough, physical game which saw Lauren not only pick up a yellow card but also a foot injury which has kept him out of Arsenal’s lineup since that game. Lauren is expected to be fit in time for Arsenal’s match on January 15. In the Championship, Matthias Doumbe again was the only Cameroonian involved in play. He started at centerback for Plymouth in his club’s 2-1 loss to Leeds United.
New Year’s Day had Job starting again at forward for Middlesbrough against Manchester United. Job was ineffective in that game and was subbed out at the start of the second half. Eric Djemba Djemba, however, made an appearance for Manchester United, coming on as a substitute in midfield in the 78th minute. Djemba Djemba even set up Ryan Giggs with a through ball for Manchester United’s 2nd goal in their 2-0 victory over Middlesbrough. Valery Mezague bounced back from his disappointing display on Boxing Day by being very active as a sub for Portsmouth. Mezague entered Portsmouth’s 1-1 draw with Norwich in the 81st minute and twice nearly won the game with hard shots which were well saved by Norwich’s goalie. There were no games on January 1 in the Championship.
January 3rd was the 4th match day in England over the holidays but due to the injuries to Lauren and Atouba, only Joseph Desire Job played amongst Cameroon’s players in the Premier League. Job entered as a sub at forward for Middlesbrough against Chelsea in the 60th minute but, like the rest of his teammates, was unable to score against the league leader’s tight defense in Chelsea’s 2-0 victory. In the Championship, Matthias Doumbe played at centerback for Plymouth in their 2-1 loss to Ipswich Town.
We have not previously been following Scotland’s league this season but former Indomitable Lion defender Gustave Bahoken is playing for Livingston. His club unfortunately is struggling in the Scottish Premier League, currently they are 10th in the 12 team league. Livingston played twice over the holdiays. Their first match was a 0-0 draw with Dunfermiline and their second match was a 2-1 loss to league leaders Glasgow Celtic. Bahoken started at centerback in both matches. Against Celtic, Bahoken almost tied the match, his well struck shot in the last minutes of the game was well saved by Celtic’s keeper.
The Greek league played one round of matches during the holidays and 2 Cameroonians were involved in those games. Guy Feutchine started at right side midfield for PAOK Salonika in their big match against traditional power Panathinaikos. PAOK lost 2-1 but Feutchine was again amongst his club’s better players. Pierre Ebede was in goal for Chalkidona as his club defeated Apollon 3-0. It was a fairly easy match for Ebede and his club and he was only required to make one save on the day.
Israel’s league also played a round of matches over New Year’s weekend. Emile Mbamba started at forward for Maccabi Tel Aviv in their 1-1 tie with Hapoel Beersheba. Ernest Etchi started at centerback for Bnei Sakhnin as they lost 2-1 to Hapoel Petach Tikva.
This coming weekend is Cup day in England, Scotland and France while the leagues resume play in Spain, Portugal and Italy. Stay tuned for more details next week on Cameroon’s players in those matches. In the meantime, here is wishing all of this column’s readers a happy and healthy New Year!
Martin COUTLER, email@example.com