Jean-Paul Akono Took the Cameroon Under-23 side to Olympic gold in Sydney last year and was rewarded with the national team job. Deceptively laid back, Akono, on the surface at least, hardly inspires any confidence and during the Olympics seemed to lose control of his players at times. But no one can argue with his success. Akono is a former international defender who played under German coach Peter Schnittger when Cameroon failed to win the African Nations Cup title as hosts in 1972.
Boukar Alioum Born: 03.01.72. Club: Samsunspor (Tur). 31 caps The refusal of veteran Jacques Songo’o to play for Cameroon last year has finally allowed Alioum to emerge asfirst choice, eight years after making his debut. Came of age at last year’s African Nations Cup finals with solid rather than spectacular performances.
Idriss Carlos Kameni 18.02.84, Le Havre (Fra), 0 caps A sensational performance at the Olympic Games, where he took over as first choice from Daniel Bekono midway through the tournament, has elevated Kameni into the national squad. Saved a penalty in the gold medal match against Spain but has yet to play a League game in France, where he is still in the junior set-up at Le Havre.
Raymond Kalla 22.04.75, Extremadura (Spa), 36 caps (2 gls) Brutish defender with a knack of scoring vital goals from set pieces. Started at Canon Yaounde and made his debut for Cameroon before the 1994 World Cup. After the finals he moved to Panahaiki in Greece and is now in the Spanish Second Division with Extremadura. Played at the last two Nations Cup finals and in two successive World Cups.
Pierre Njanka 15.03.75, Strasbourg (Fra), 21 caps (2 gls) Surprise discovery by Claude Le Roy ahead of the 1998 World Cup, plucked from the obscurity of Cameroonian club side Racing Bafoussam. Signed for Strasbourg after the finals but was then loaned to Neuchatel Xamax in Switzerland. Has now signed a new contract at Strasbourg after a deal to join Bolton Wanderers in England fell through.
Rigobert Song 01.07.76, West Ham (Eng), 47 caps (2 gls) Captain of the Nations Cup-winning side last year and one of Africa’s leading defenders, he has good pace though is prone to make spectacular blunders. First selected for Cameroon by Henri Michel at 17 in 1993 and has been on the books of Metz in France, Salernitana in Italy and Liverpool before joining the Hammers this season. Has played in three successive Nations Cup finals.
Bill Tchato 14.05.75, Montpellier (Fra), 4 caps New discovery for the Cameroonians, having spent most of his life in France. Started his career at Caen before going on to Valence and Nice. Signed for Montpellier last summer and won his first cap against Libya in June.
Pierre Wome 26.03.79, Bologna (Ita), 39 caps (1 gl) Made his debut for Cameroon aged just 16 and has gone on to win Olympic gold D he scored the penalty shoot-out winner against Spain D and the Nations Cup, as well as play in Serie A. Strong defender who has recently also found a place in the Cameroon midfield as a destroyerwhen Marc-Vivien Foe is not available. Played for Roma in the 1998-99 season but made just eight appearances and seems more content now at Bologna.
Serge Branco 11.10.80, Eintracht Frankfurt (Ger), 0 caps Strong left-sided player who came to prominence at last year’s Olympics and immediately earned a lucrative move from Eintracht Braunschweig in the German regional league to Eintracht Frankfurt. Has been playing in Germany since the age of 16 and was called intothe senior national squad for the first time in January.
Joel Epalle 20.02.78, Panahaiki (Gre), 14 caps (2 gls) Debuted for the national side as a teenager in 1995, against Gabon, but had always been a fringe squad player until enhancing his reputation at Sydney 2000 with the Under-23 side. Moved from Union Douala to Ethnikos in Greece in 1997 and is now with Panahaiki.
Lauren Etame-Mayer 19.01.77, Arsenal (Eng), 10 caps Born in Cameroon but raised in Spain, where he started at Sevilla and came to prominence at Mallorca before last summer’s move to Arsenal. Cameroon discovered him just before the 1998 World Cup and he was the star performer at the last Nations Cup. His initial inability to speak English or French made him something of an outsider in the camp, but his talent soon won over his compatriots.
Marc-Vivien Foe 01.05.75, Lyon (Fra), 34 caps (3 gls) Fearsome midfielder who won the French League title with Lens and was earmarked for a move to Manchester United but then broke a leg and missed the 1998 World Cup finals. Made it to England eventually for a season at West Ham but is now back in France with Lyon. His international career started in 1993 but injury and club commitments have restricted his appearances. Played at the 1994 World Cup finals in the USA and at three successive Nations Cup tournaments.
Modeste Mbami 09.10.82, Sedan (Fra), 3 caps Scored the all-important golden goal for the Olympic side against Brazil in the quarter-finals in Brisbane last September D a strike that put the Africans one step closer to their gold medal. Raised in France but yet to break through into the senior ranks at Sedan. However, he has already played as a substitute in two World Cup qualifiers.
Geremi Fotso Njitap 20.12.78, Real Madrid (Spa), 27 caps Now has a regular place at full-back with Real after being on the bench when they won the UEFA Champions League last year. Bought by John Toshack from Turkey, he had previously played for Cerro Porteno of Paraguay. Captain of the gold medal- winning Olympic side last year. Made his senior international debut against Gabon in 1996 at the age of 17.
Salomon Olembe 03.12.73, Nantes (Fra), 25 caps (3 gls) Classy midfielder who is a product of Nantes’ famous youth system. Scored on his debut for Cameroon, against Cuba in October 1997, and played against England at Wembley a month later. Featured in the last World Cup finals and was an integral part of the Nations Cup-winning side last year. However, he angered Cameroon officials by refusing to go to the Olympics as an over-age player.
Bernard Tchoutang 02.09.76, Roda JC Kerkrade (Hol), 28 caps (4 gls) International career got off to a slow start after debuting against Mexico in 1993 and has a reputation for being erratic. But Tchoutang does offer his country an attacking dimension down the wings. Played for Vanspor in Turkey before going to Holland, where he has won the domestic Cup with Roda.
Samuel Eto’o 10.03.80, Real Mallorca (Spa), 17 caps (6 gls) Temperamental teenage prodigy who has great potential and could become an international star. Belongs to Real Madrid but is on loan at Mallorca. A product of the Kadji Academy in Cameroon, he debuted for the Lions a day short of his 17th birthday. Scored four goals in the 2000 Nations Cup finals and also got vital goals during the Olympics, including the Final against Spain.
Joseph-Desire Job 01.12.77, Middlesbrough (Eng), 26 caps (4 gls) Turned down a chance to play for the French Under-21 side in favour of Cameroon at the behest of his father. Born in France and started his career at Lyon, where he became an overnight sensation in the early stages of the 1997-98 League campaign. Since then has moved on to Lens and then Middlesbrough but has not quite lived up to expectations. Made his debut for Cameroon against England in 1997.
Patrick Mboma 15.11.70, Parma (Ita), 32 caps (20 gls) Named African Footballer of the Year after helping his country win the Nations Cup and Olympic gold in 2000. Career took off in the J.League in Japan, having moved to Gamba Osaka from Paris Saint-Germain. Now in his fourth year in Serie A, he moved to Parma last summer having been relegated with Cagliari last season. Has scored 10 international goals in the past 12 months to keep up a phenomenal strike rate with Cameroon.
Pius Ndiefi 05.07.75, Sedan (Fra), 7 caps (2 gls) Played in Cameroon junior sides but then went to France and anonymity at Lens and Valence before his 11 goals in 1998-99 helped Sedan to win promotion. Scored twice on his debut for Cameroon against Burkina Faso last year and is now pushing for a regular starting place ahead of Job but behind Eto’o and Mboma.
*Caps and goals figures correct at February 1, 2001.