CHAN 2020: Cameroon coach eyes early qualification despite Mali hurdle
• “We are looking forward to qualify”- Host Cameroon are on the verge of reaching the quarter-finals of the CHAN for the first time since 2016.
By Beng Emmanuel
The Head coach of Cameroon’s Intermediate Lions Martin Ndtoungou Mpile is upbeat his side can secure an early qualification to the quarter finals of the 2020 African Nations Football Championship, becoming the first nation to sail through.
It will be the first time for the two-time quarterfinalist to reach that stage of the competition after previous exploits in 2011 and 2016.
Host Cameroon face second place Mali-who beat Burkina Faso in their group A opener last Saturday at the Ahmadou Ahidjou Stadium.
The sexagenarian who replaced Yves Clement Arroga few months to the CHAN revealed his side is set to produce a stunning display against their West African rivals who have vowed to ruin their ambitions to sail through at their expense. But the Lions are even more motivated after they claimed their first win in the continental tournament against the Warriors of Zimbabwe.
“I think that we gained more confidence after our first outing in this tournament. We regained our state of mind in a very classic fashion. When you win your first game, your objectives become glaring. We are looking forward to qualify after our second game because the opportunity presents itself. Our players are aware about our goal and are set for the clash” Ndtoungou Mpile said during the pre-match press conference.
Mpile had previously admitted his team lacked some composure in finding the net despite a plethora of scoring chances during the clash with Zimbabwe. But the last few days have been very instrumental to address some of the team’s worries as they eye an early qualification.
“The problem has been solved. We simply have to practice more and the players will develop the habit to score. The most difficult was getting in a position to score. And we have been able to do so”, he said.
He added: “Goals are scored from either collective actions and individual exploits. The possibilities are open. As the head coach I am trying to exploit these means to the fullest.
“When you are preparing a team, you have to think of all these possibilities. The possibilities are there. We have to see how to apply them within the game in relation to the kind of players we have”.
Can Jacques Zoua fire Cameroon to early triumph?
Only few players have ever won the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) and the CHAN in their professional career. And for Jacque Zoua it represents a remarkable feat in his career.
The 29-year-old created a buzz around the country when he was shortlisted in Cameroon’s 23 man CHAN squad and has since then been keen on guiding the Central African Nation to their first ever CHAN trophy on home soil.
“For me I think the most important is to win. Because a competition like this is never won by one person. I will endeavour to put in my best” Zoua told press men during the pre-match press conference.
Despite failing to score, the front man was more creative and daring for Cameroon in the second half against Zimbabwe before he was substituted towards the end. However, Zoua thinks tomorrow’s game is ‘another final’ for the Intermediate Lions who’ve got the mettle to match up their opponents-Mali.
“I think we have what it takes to face any opponent in this competition. The most important is to work hard to enable us win games” he began.
“We have a positive mind set. We are going to prepare the Mali game like we did for the first. For us every game is a final. We are serene in camp and we are more confident after Saturday’s win. We will give our very best like we demonstrated in our first outing”.
Cameroon face Mali this Wednesday at the Ahmadou Ahidjou Stadium at 5pm. The winner of the clash qualifies for the quarter-finals of the 2020 CHAN with a game to spare.