Cameroon has high goals for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Led by FC Bayern striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, the “irresistible lions” want to at least make it to the semi-finals.
The fact that Cameroon is at the 2022 World Cup is almost a miracle. In the playoffs for participation in Qatar, almost everything was over. The “Indomitable Lions” lost the first leg against Algeria 1-0 in front of their home crowd.
In the second leg, Bayern professional Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting ensured that it went into overtime. Ahmed Touba shattered all of Cameroon’s dreams with two minutes remaining in regulation time, sending the stadium in Algeria’s Blida into a frenzy with an equaliser.
Fans were already running onto the field and celebrating Algeria’s supposed World Cup qualification – but the game went on.
Ekambi silences the stadium
And Cameroon scored the golden goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time, with the last action of the game. After a free kick and subsequent header extension, Karl Toko Ekambi scored the decisive 2:1 (in Africa the away goals rule still applies) and silenced the “Stade Mustapha Tchaker”.
Eighth World Cup participation – African record holder
The Cameroonians secured their ticket to the World Cup for the eighth time. You are the African record holder. And you can feel that: Choupo-Moting and Co. came to Qatar with a lot of confidence – and they articulate that offensively.
Cameroon’s coach Song is aiming for the semi-finals
Coach Rigobert Song, formerly active in the Bundesliga for 1. FC Köln, wants “reach at least the semifinals“. Song, for whose appointment after the end of the Africa Cup of Nations on home soil at the beginning of the year even President Paul Biya campaigned, is going into the tournament with confidence: “We’re determined to show that the eighth appearance at a World Cup was no accident.”
Association president and record goalscorer Samuel Eto’o went even further than Song, announcing “only on the evening of the World Cup final” to leave Qatar with the Cameroonian team.
Choupo-Moting as a beacon of hope
Cameroon will be led at the World Cup by Choupo-Moting, who has been proving for weeks and months in the Bundesliga for FC Bayern that he is in top form. Since Robert Lewandoski’s departure to FC Barcelona in the summer and a slight crisis in the German record champions at the beginning of the season, Choupo-Moting has been a constant part of FC Bayern’s starting line-up – and impresses there as a centre-forward.
The native of Hamburg scored eleven goals in ten competitive games before leaving for Qatar – that also makes him a great hope in Cameroon. The 33-year-old wants to shoot the Africans through to the knockout stage – but is going into the tournament with a more realistic goal than his coach and association boss.
First of all, Choupo-Motings wants to get through the preliminary round. “We have to go step by step. But of course we want to get ahead“said the attacker one day before Cameroon’s first World Cup game against Switzerland (Thursday, November 24th, 2022, from 11 a.m. in the audio stream and in the live ticker on sportschau.de).
Cameroon’s World Cup disappointments
Choupo-Moting has been playing for Cameroon since 2010, and he has never been as important in his father’s home country as it is today. However, the high expectations can also become a burden – for himself and for the team. The memory of Cameroon’s last World Cup appearances, which were rather unfortunate, is still fresh. In Russia 2018, the Africans did not qualify, before that they were bottom of the group in Brazil 2014 without points, as well as in 2010 in South Africa.
Strong Group G
The opening match against the Confederates, in which a total of seven players from the Bundesliga are in the squad, is all the more important in Qatar. Record world champions Brazil and Serbia await in the other games in Group G.
Choupo-Moting’s odds: 19 goals in 69 games
“It’s a difficult group. But we believe in ourselves because we have the qualities“, said Choupo-Moting, who played for Germany in the U21s. When it came to the senior team, he decided to join Cameroon shortly before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. To date, he has scored 19 goals in 69 games.
Qatar is the third World Cup for Choupo-Moting. In 2010 and 2014 he was goalless in five appearances, he also failed to get an assist. But back then he played for clubs like 1. FC Nürnberg (2010) or Mainz 05 (2014). Today he is a different player. What has always distinguished him: Choupo-Moting has evolved, from station to station. He kept getting better.
From Paris St.Germain to Bayern
His career has really taken off in recent years. In 2018 he landed at Paris St. Germain via Stoke City. With the top French club, Choupo-Moting reached the Champions League final against FC Bayern (0-1) in 2020.
Then the German record champions signed Choupo-Moting. For two years there, the attacker was Lewandowski’s back-up and was there when he was needed. It almost always worked. Now the Polish striker is gone – and Choupo-Moting is more important than ever.
“I know I can help the team”
A parallel to the “irresistible lions”: It’s the same there. The role of beacon of hope for an entire country is new to him, but Choupo-Moting accepts it: “Of course, expectations are high, that’s quite normal. But I know I can help the team.”