QATAR 2022: AS AN AFRICAN TEAM CAMEROON CAN WIN THE WORLD CUP
QATAR 2022: AS AN AFRICAN TEAM CAMEROON CAN WIN THE WORLD CUP
The Captain of the Indomitable Lions has just given a long interview to the official FIFA website. Two months before the World Cup in Qatar, Vincent Aboubakar displays an unprecedented serenity. In this file, FIFA looks back on the course of the Lion and its ambitions for Qatar 2022:
Lisons Garoua, a city located in the northeast of Cameroon, has just over a million inhabitants. For a long time, Ahmadou Ahidjo, the first president elected after independence, remained the darling of the capital of the northern region. But, for a few years now, this mythical figure has been facing unexpected competition, to say the least. In the city center, near the stadium, the walls of the houses now serve as a support for magnificent frescoes in honor of a new hero: Vincent Aboubakar.
The Cameroonian captain, who currently plays more than 4,000 kilometers from his hometown of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, spoke to FIFA+ about his remarkable career and his ambitions ahead of the big world meeting . “When I arrived in Saudi Arabia, I had a little trouble getting used to the heat. Fortunately, the Saudis have been very welcoming and I can tell you that football is a big part of their lives,” says he by way of introduction.
“I was born in a predominantly Muslim neighborhood. In Riyadh, I discovered nice and friendly people. It’s true, Al-Nassr supporters have their hearts on their sleeves. They gave me a warm welcome friendly.”
The Saudis did not shrink from the transfer price demanded by the Turks of Beşiktaş, which testifies to their ambitions. In fact, the club now finds itself in the fight with its great rival, Al Hilal, in the race for the title. Besides Aboubakar, Al-Nassr has signed Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina from Napoli, former Brazil international Luiz Gustavo and Ivory Coast left-back Ghislain Konan. All of these arrivals bear the mark of the new coach, the Frenchman Rudi Garcia, also hired this summer. The goal is clear: to reclaim the Saudi Pro League title from Al Hilal, a feat that Al-Nassr has been unable to achieve in the past three seasons.
For his part, Aboubakar welcomes this takeover: “The club has been very active on the transfer market. The leaders have obtained significant reinforcements to allow us to play for the title. Everyone knows Rudi Garcia He is an experienced technician, who will bring his know-how to us. He has already had the opportunity to practice in some of the biggest clubs in the world. He does an excellent job and I am sure that We’re going to have a great season. Now, we mustn’t lie to each other, the pressure is on us. It’s up to us, players, to rise to the occasion!”
Dethroning Al Hilal will not be easy, but the Cameroonian striker has already taken up many challenges during a career that has taken him to France, Portugal and Turkey, before landing in the Gulf. At the same time, our interlocutor is about to live his greatest adventure with the Indomitable Lions.
A few weeks before the start of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, he gives us his impressions: “It’s a wonderful competition, which holds a special place in the hearts of all footballers. We We fell into a difficult group with Brazil, Switzerland and Serbia. However, we are not afraid of Brazil because this team is not like the ones we have known in the past. Certainly, there are good players but to go far in such a competition, you need a united group. Without this collective, aligning the big names is not much use.
“As far as we are concerned, we have to go into this tournament in the best possible shape. I hope we avoid injuries. Then we’ll see. I’m not going to tell you if Brazil are going to do this or that; we concentrate on our game. I am sure that the coach and his assistants will do everything to ensure that we can play at our best level. Our team is not lacking in talent and there is an excellent state of mind within the group. Whatever happens, we will all pull in the same direction.”
“We have nothing to envy to Brazil. We are a great team, we represent a great country and we have the means to go far. Let our game speak for us. This tournament will bring together the best teams on the planet. If we want to be competitive, we will have to prepare well. In 2014, things did not go as planned, because we were in the middle of a transition. There were tensions within the group but we learned from this episode and we are ready to start a new chapter.”
In his youth, Aboubakar devoted so much time to his football practice that he had no time to watch television. However, he remembers a Spanish La Liga game that changed his life.
“I don’t really like watching football; I prefer to be in the action and play with my friends. When I was little, I had a friend called Fidel. One day, he called me to Asking me to come and see a match. ‘I think there is a player you’re going to like,’ he said to me. The match was between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao. When I arrived, he told me. Ronaldinho showed. I immediately fell in love with him. He is the player who has marked me the most in my career. I also really appreciate Cristiano Ronaldo’s mentality. I have a lot of respect for him. By his personality, his mind and his will to win, he is capable of transcending any team.”
The young Aboubakar began by making a name for himself in Cameroon, before leaving for France. But, by his own admission, his debut in Europe was difficult. “We talked a lot about my difficulties in adapting when I arrived in Valenciennes. I was 18 years old. I landed in a country that I did not know at all. I was lost. It was not obvious and, in addition, I was made to play on the wing. It was only after my transfer to Lorient that I started having fun on the pitch.”
Despite this half-hearted start, it was not long before he was called up to the Cameroon team. Impressed by his potential, Paul Le Guen, the team’s coach, decided to call him up for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. At the time, his international experience amounted to a few months.
“I played in the World Cup when I was 18. I was one of the youngest in the group at that time. Fortunately, when I arrived in France, I was surrounded by good people. didn’t change. Even after the World Cup, I remained humble. I didn’t take myself for someone else. I continued my career in Valenciennes because I didn’t want to rush. I’m someone ‘one of calm.’
Twelve years later, Aboubakar is preparing to represent his country once again in the queen of competitions, this time as captain. Since his debut in 2010, he has experienced almost everything. In 2014, he had to make do with two appearances. Unfortunately for him, he remains silent against Croatia and Brazil. The rest will be more encouraging, with some great successes in the 2017 and 2021 CAF Africa Cup of Nations.
In full doubt during the first edition, Aboubakar finds himself reduced to the role of substitute. He no longer scores; worse, he does not target a single shot before the final, which pits the Indomitable Lions against Mohamed Salah’s Egypt. The Pharaohs opened the scoring through Mohamed Elneny, but Nicolas Nkoulou tied the two teams on the hour mark. As often since the start of the tournament, coach Hugo Broos decided to launch his luxury joker in the second half.
Two minutes from the end of regulation time, Aboubakar manages to control a long clearance from Sébastien Siani. He erases his bodyguard and places an unstoppable volley in the corner of the goal.
Roger Milla and Samuel Eto’o witness this coup from the stands. It was enough to offer Cameroon its fifth continental crown, after a long crossing of the desert of 15 years.
Four years later, Aboubakar crosses paths with Egypt again in the African Cup of Nations. In the semi-finals, both teams remain silent for 120 minutes. Our interlocutor will however be the only Cameroonian to score during the penalty shootout, which is obviously not enough to prevent the Pharaohs from reaching a new final.
However, on this occasion he signed his best individual performance in the continental event: with eight goals, he finished top scorer in the CAN. The last Indomitable Lion to achieve such a feat was called Samuel Eto’o (in 2008). He is also the first player to cross the bar of seven units on an edition since the Congolese Ndaye Mulamba, in 1974.
“I was proud, it’s true, but I am especially very grateful to Toni Conceição, who has always believed in myself. I think I was up to it. I would also like to thank all my team-mates. They gave their all and without them, I would never have succeeded. We absolutely wanted this title, but fate decided it other.”
“Now I know I will be expected around the corner. I expect to be watched closely during the World Cup. But I don’t mind that. The important thing is to avoid injuries. Then everything can happen. We have the means to create a surprise.” Despite all these successes, Aboubakar has remained a simple man, faithful to his modest origins.
“There has been a lot of talk about my status as captain, but I don’t worry too much. I see myself as a simple relay between the coach and the players. I don’t want this armband to be a problem. Of course, it It’s an honor to wear it in the selection, especially since we know how much our supporters love us. Football holds a huge place in Cameroon. It helps people forget their problems. It gives them a smile. As players, we have a duty to do our best on the pitch so that every Cameroonian can be proud of us.”
“I’ve had the chance to share unforgettable moments with our supporters, throughout my career. I don’t want to minimize everything I’ve already achieved, I know I’m very lucky, but I’m far from satisfied.”
Several African teams have already reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup, including Cameroon, in 1990. Our interlocutor is convinced of this, the supreme title could go to an African selection in the more or less near future… provided to focus on preparation.
“I think in a few years an African team could very well win the World Cup. In 20 or 50 years, maybe. Who knows? It’s possible, but if we want to make this dream a reality , we have to prepare and organize ourselves better in order to circumvent our lack of resources”, he slips in conclusion.