The Indomitable Lions and the Blue Samurai weren’t able to get the better of one another in Utrecht
Cameroon and Japan played out to a goalless draw in Friday’s friendly meeting in Utrecht, Netherlands, as the Indomitable Lions returned to action following an 11-month absence.
In light of international football’s suspension during the coronavirus pandemic, this was the Central Africans’ first fixture in 11 months, and represented a big opportunity for new coach Toni Conceicao to assess his options against seasoned opposition.
He had to contend with a number of absentees, with Racing Club de Lens forward Ignatius Ganago and Young Boys Bern forward Jean-Pierre Nsame both pulling out of the squad late on due to a thigh problem and an ankle sprain respectively.
Similarly, the Portuguese coach was without Nicolas Nkoulou and Vincent Aboubakar after they were initially included in the 32-man long list, while Andre Onana, Kunde Malong and Jerome Onguene were unable to participate in the match due to Covid-19-related restrictions.
Belgium-based Mouscron winger Serge Tabekou made his debut on the right side for the Lions, with he and Moumi Ngamaleu charged with offering support for central striker, Olympique Lyonnais’ Karl Toko Ekambi.
There was no place for Bayern Munich new boy Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting, but wonderkid Franck Evina—formerly of the reigning European champions—made his Lions debut off the bench.
Samuel Oum took his place in a three-man midfield alongside Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissi and Brice Yan Eteki, while there was a more familiar look to the backline which included Africa Cup of Nations 2017 winners Collins Fai, Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui and Ambroise Oyongo.
Harold Moukoudi completed the back four, and credit must go to goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa, who was an impenetrable presence between the sticks.
Moukoudi was making his first start for the Lions, having featured in 2019 against Tunisia.
Cameroon, who were absent for the 2018 World Cup, have been pitted against the Ivory Coast, Mozambique and Malawi in Group D of Caf’s qualification for the 2022 event.
The 10 group winners will be paired off in double-header playoffs to decide which five teams represent the continent in Qatar.
As hosts of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations—now rescheduled to January and February 2022—Cameroon do not need to qualify for the event, although they will take part in the qualifying campaign in Group F alongside Mozambique, Cape Verde and Rwanda.
The Lions have kept clean sheets in both of their matches to date; a 0-0 home draw with Cape Verde and a 1-0 victory against Rwanda in Kigali, both in November 2019.