The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon are definitely set for an acid test in Cote D'Ivoire when the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) competition gets underway, having not been satisfied with the third-place finish in the last edition hosted right on their soil.
The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon got their first participation berth in the AFCON in 1970, 13 years after the competition started. Now, about 67 years later, the Lions of Cameroon have roared as champions a record five times (1984, 1988, 2000, 2002, and 2017), twice runners-up (1986, 2008), and third-place finishers (1972 and 2021).
The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon have appeared in the AFCON tournament 20 times and will feature for the 21st time in Cote D'Ivoire.
Perhaps one of the most memorable wins was the 2000 AFCON victory by the Indomitable Lions when they defeated the Super Eagles of Nigeria in their home at the National Stadium Surulere on penalties.
The win in Nigeria was so historic as no one saw it coming; it was one of the glory days of the Indomitable Lions when they stamped their mark as Africa's great in the football circle.
The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon have produced great players who have shaped the world of football in the past.
They have produced great players such as Roger Milla, a man who single-handedly qualified the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon for their first quarter-finals berth at the 1990 World Cup, the first feat by any African country in the World Cup.
Going for the 1990 World Cup in their first appearance, Cameroon qualified by surpassing Nigeria and beating Tunisia in the final round playoff. In the final tournament, Cameroon was drawn into Group B with Argentina, Romania, and the Soviet Union.
During the 1990 Mundial, Cameroon created an unforgettable scene when they defeated the star-studded defending champions, Argentina, in the opening game 1–0 with a goal scored by François Omam-Biyik.
Cameroon later defeated Romania 2–1 and lost to the Soviet Union 0–4, becoming the first side to top a World Cup Finals group with a negative goal difference.
In the second round, Cameroon defeated Colombia 2–1 with the 38-year-old Roger Milla scoring two goals in extra-time.
In the quarter-finals, Cameroon faced England. After 25 minutes, England's David Platt scored for England, while in the second half, Cameroon came back with a 61st-minute penalty from Emmanuel Kundé and took the lead with Eugène Ekéké on 65 minutes.
England, however, equalized in the 83rd minute with a penalty from Gary Lineker, while Lineker again found the net via a 105th-minute penalty to make the eventual scoreline 3–2 for England. The team was coached by Russian manager and former player Valeri Nepomniachi.
The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon are a feared foe on the African scene and have, in most times, shown strength and character.
The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon qualified for the 1984 Africa Cup of Nations, held in Ivory Coast, but finished second in their first-round group before beating Algeria on penalties in the semi-final.
In the final, Cameroon beat Nigeria 3–1 with goals from René N'Djeya, Théophile Abega, and Ernest Ebongué to become champions of Africa for the first time.
The Lions roared again in 1988 after coming as runners-up in the 1986 edition.
The Indomitable Lions on March 27, 1988, at the Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca, Morocco, became another worthy winner of the African Cup of Nations.
Cameroon at the finals of the 1988 AFCON once again defeated Nigeria 1–0 with a lone goal from Emmanuel Kundé in the 55th minute making it the second time to defeat Nigeria in the finals.
For the fourth AFCON win, Cameroon started the 2002 African Cup of Nations competition with a 1–0 win over DR Congo, followed by another 1–0 win against Ivory Coast, and a comfortable 3–0 win against Togo.
These results led Cameroon to qualify from the group stage to the quarter-finals as their group's winner.
In the knockout stage, M'Boma's goal in the 62nd minute lifted Cameroon over Egypt 1–0, while the country would again defeat the hosts Mali 3–0 in the semi-final on February 7, en route to repeating history as champions by edging Senegal 3–2 on penalties following a scoreless 120 minutes.
The latest win by the Indomitable was the match held at the Stade de l'Amitié in Libreville, Gabon, on February 5, 2017, a fireworks final contested against Egypt, which the Indomitable Lions won by 2-1.
The Indomitable Lions were placed in Group A, alongside Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, and the hosts Gabon.
The first match against Burkina Faso was fascinating as Cameroon took the lead after 35 minutes, while Burkina Faso equalized in the 75th minute through a close-range goal from Issoufou Dayo, and the match finished as a 1–1 draw.
The second match was also filled with drama as Cameroon faced Guinea-Bissau, who were playing in their first Africa Cup of Nations and had only ever won four competitive matches in their history.
Shockingly, Guinea-Bissau took the lead after 13 minutes through Piqueti, who shot into the top of the goal following a fast-paced run with the ball along most of the length of the pitch, while Cameroon would only equalize after halftime, with Sébastien Siani scoring from outside the penalty area, while Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui's goal on 78 minutes gave them the first win.
The final group game was against tournament hosts Gabon, which ended 0–0, although Gabon almost won the game in injury time when Denis Bouanga's shot hit the post and goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa had to save Didier Ndong's follow-up.
The result ensured that Cameroon qualified for the quarter-finals in second place, behind Burkina Faso, while Gabon was eliminated.
Cameroon played their quarter-final against Senegal at the Stade de Franceville.
Senegal had several chances during the game, with Mame Diouf shooting over the crossbar just before the 30-minute mark and Ondoa saving consecutive shots by Sadio Mané and Keita Baldé in the second half.
Cameroon had to wait until 65 minutes when Robert Ndip Tambe hit a volley at Senegal goalkeeper Abdoulaye Diallo, who then saved a follow-up shot by Moukandjo.
The Cameroon goalkeeper made late saves to shots from Mané again and Moussa Sow, who had come on as a substitute, leaving the match 0–0 at the end of normal time.
Senegal had further chances in extra time, but they could not convert them, and the game went to a penalty shootout.
The first eight penalties were all scored, making it 4–4, but Mané then missed his kick. Vincent Aboubakar scored for Cameroon, giving them a place in the semi-final.
The Indomitable Lions later faced Ghana in the finals, a game that remained goalless until 72 minutes, after Cameroon then broke the deadlock, through Ngadeu-Ngadjui scoring after poor defending by Ghana. Christian Bassogog added a second goal in the final minute to seal a 2–0 win and a place in the final.
Cameroon then went on to win with a defeat to Egypt 2-1 in the finals.
For AFCON 2024, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon will be coming off in a more confident mood, having had a relatively strong performance at the last FIFA World Cup in Qatar, where they scooped four points, including a full three points against a Neymar-led Brazil. Cameroon is one of the favorites tipped to at least make the last four.
The Indomitable Lions are still strong, and finishing third in the last edition of the AFCON, they should attempt nothing but winning the AFCON in Cote D'Ivoire.
With a controversial World Cup, one more headlined by off-field issues than on-field performance, the Coach of the Indomitable Lions, Rigobert Song, will be hoping for a less chaotic campaign in Cote d’Ivoire.
Rigobert Song is an adept proponent of the balanced 4-3-3 formation; opponents facing Cameroon should be assured of squaring up against a side that enjoys keeping possession, utilizing the flanks while being covered by a solid backline.
During his playing days, Song won the AFCON twice, and that experience is bound to add to his much-experienced side when it comes to coping and thriving with the nuances of the competition.
One of the players to watch out for is Stade Rennes, defender, Christopher Wooh, whose playing style can be compared to Coach Rigobert Song in his heydays.
Wooh is a talented player with a strong physical presence, sharp awareness, ball-playing skills, and exceptional aerial abilities.
At just 21, the defender has warmed himself into the hearts of the Lions' defense.
His impressive performances at the club level have also seen him attract interests from clubs like RB Salzburg.
Another player is the Manchester United FC goalkeeper, Andre Onana, who was once frozen out of the club but has returned with a bang.
Cameroon will face other foes in the Gambia, Senegal, and Guinea.
Of course, current holders Senegal are a threat, but the Indomitable Lions should be able to secure one of the slots for the knockout stage.