For many of the established teams coming into this World Cup, their larger goals outside of the simple quest for points involve things like trying to recapture former greatness or maintaining a period of success. Cameroon, though, are still early in their journey in the international realm. All they’re trying to do is be a little bit better than last time.
That’s because for Les Lionnes Indomptables, just qualifying for their first World Cup is a triumph. The Cameroonian men’s team is no stranger to soccer’s biggest stage, but the women have not been afforded the kind of investment needed to grow a strong national product until fairly recently. Things are changing, though, and this tournament in Canada will be their second consecutive major one after qualifying for the last Olympic Games. While happy to have made it to London in 2012, the Lionesses proceeded to get housed 5-0 by Brazil, then pasted 3-0 by the Brits, and finally beaten convincingly 3-1 by New Zealand. Even avoiding a fate like that this go-round would be a welcome improvement.
With the relative weakness of Group C, Cameroon have as good of a shot of actually making it out of the group as they could’ve hoped for. Japan will almost assuredly take one of the top spots, but Switzerland (probably?) aren’t great and Ecuador and Cameroon are about on the same level, so there are potentially enough points out there for a strong third or maybe even a shock second place finish.
Goalkeepers: Annette Ngo Ndom (Union Nové Zámky), Thècie Mbororo (Panthère de Garoua), Flore Enyegue (AS Police).
Defenders: Christine Manie (CFF Olimpia Cluj), Yvonne Leuko (Arras), Augustine Ejangue (Energy Voronezh), Aurelle Awona (ASJ Soyaux), Claudine Meffometou (Zvezda 2005 Perm), Cathy Bou Ndjouh (Minsk), Ysis Sonkeng (Louves Minpoff), Wanki Awachwi (Locomotive Yaoundé).
Midfielders: Raissa Feudjio (Louves Minproff), Ninon Abena (Louves Minproff), Henriette Akaba (Louves Minproff), Agathe Ngani (Louves Minproff), Genevieve Ngo (Caïman Douala).
Forwards: Ajara Nchout (Western New York Flash), Francine Zouga (FF Chênois), Gabrielle Onguene (Louves Minproff), Madeleine Ngono (Claix Football), Jeannette Yango (Auvergne), Gaëlle Enganamouit (Eskilstuna United), Rose Bella (AS Police).
Les Lionnes Indomptables (The Indomitable Lionesses)
Despite the defensive embarrassment that was their maiden Olympic voyage, Cameroon are usually pretty sound at the back. Their best tournament appearance came in last year’s African Women’s Championship, where they made it all the way to the final mainly on the strength of their defense. They only allowed two goals in their four matches before losing to the continent’s best team, Nigeria, by a score of 2-0 in the final. Most of the credit there goes to their goalkeeper, Annette Ngo Ndom. She is one of the standout players on the three-time champs of the Slovakian league, and is probably the best player on the team. With some inspired performances, she could be this tournament’s Keylor Navas.
Where Cameroon will struggle though is in attack. The Lionesses only scored once in the Olympics, and even during their deep run in the African Championship, they scored a pretty paltry five goals in as many games. Their hopes on that front probably lay with Gabrielle Onguene and her contingent of Louves Minproff teammates. Six member of the squad play on that Cameroonian league club and if they can transfer their chemistry there over to the national team, they might be able to squeak in enough goals to make something happen.
June 8, 7 p.m.: Cameroon vs. Ecuador at BC Place Stadium
June 12, 10 p.m.: Cameroon vs. Japan at BC Place Stadium
June 16, 5 p.m.: Cameroon vs. Switzerland at Commonwealth Stadium
All times Eastern