The six-time World Cup finalists have secured their latest passage to the global football fiesta, and did so in style over the weekend against Tunisia in a 4-1 drubbing
By Walter Wilson Nana
For a seventh time, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon will feature at the highest level of world football to be hosted this time by Brazil, land of the Samba and legendary footballer Pele.
WE'RE THERE | Captain Eto'o and his Lions are in Brazil 2014
In the second-leg play-off qualifier for the 2014 World Cup honoured on Sunday, the four-time African champions thrashed their counterparts, the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia, 4–1 at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaounde. The reverse fixture played a month earlier saw the sides grind out a goalless draw.
A 4-3-3 system put in motion by Cameroon's German-born head coach Volker Finke paid off soon after kick-off, when No.15-shirted Achille Webo opened the scores with just three minutes gone. Webo, criticised by some observers of the team after squandering a golden opportunity to put Cameroon in the lead in the first-leg, redeemed a dwindling image by beautifully netting that opener.
Regaining confidence and huge fan support from the 50,000-plus that had turned out to watch, the Lions would punish their guests with a second goal on 29 minutes with Benjamin Moukandjo concretising a solo move that saw him mesmerise five defenders before shooting into the Tunisian goal.
The stadium suddenly came alive and Finke's charges seemed already home and dry even as half-time beckoned. The second half resumed with the Tunisians poised to re-launch themselves into the game. Their offensive machinery made moves to destabilise the Cameroonian defence setup comprising Aurelien Chedjou, Nicolas Koulou, Stephane Mbia and Benoit Assou Ekotto.
The north Africans indeed succeeded soon after the break when forward Akaichi Ahmed benefitted from a long range pass from midfield and, without any waste of time, shot past Cameroonian keeper Charles Itandje.
If the Tunisians thought they could be revitalised by their goal, the Cameroonians grew rather conscious and re-mobilised their game plan, with Finke putting in more pep by withdrawing a tired-looking Webo and introducing the inspired Eric Choupo-Moting into the attack line. The presence of the substitute proved a good omen for Cameroon as he caused greater problems for the Tunisians and created more scoring opportunities. Choupo-Moting did miss a good strike that hit the Tunisian goal's frame, but Jean II Makoun, a purposeful midfielder for Cameroon, skilfully dribbled through the opposition's defence before slotting in for Cameroon's third. With that, an entire nation exploded with joy as the gates to Brazil now seemed wide open to captain Samuel Eto’o Fils and his colleagues.
Eto’o, who played as an offensive midfielder on the day, was more of an organiser for the Lions, supplying some good passes for his team-mates. A spirited Makoun would re-register on the score sheet four minutes from the end, when he headed in his country's fourth and final goal, from an Assou-Ekotto corner kick.
Cameroon's re-emergence on the international stage now confirmed with that win, they join Nigeria and Ivory Coast as the nations qualified for next year's World Cup from Africa.
Today, Ghana's Black Stars will play against Egypt in Cairo. The Ghanaians would seek to consolidate their 6–1 trouncing of the Pharaohs in last month's first leg.
In the final play-off tie, Algeria would wish to turn the tide against Burkina Faso. Earlier in Ouagadougou, the Algerians lost 3-2 and would need to score without conceding to have any real chances of ensuring qualification, while the Burkinabe must hold on to their own lead to qualify.
Meanwhile, the merrymaking would continue in Cameroon for a little longer.