Qatar 2022 | Group G: Cameroon entirely capable of upsetting Brazil and the apple cart

14 November 2022 - 13:41 By Marc Strydom
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Vinicius Junior of Brazil is challenged by Mohammed Kudus of Ghana in the international friendly at Stade Oceane in Le Havre, France on September 23 2022.
Vinicius Junior of Brazil is challenged by Mohammed Kudus of Ghana in the international friendly at Stade Oceane in Le Havre, France on September 23 2022.
Image: Gerrit van Keulen - ANP via Getty Images

Brazil take their strongest combination to a Fifa World Cup in many editions at Qatar 2022 and are the bookmakers’ favourites to lift the trophy.

For Cameroon, the reality that faces many African teams is that in player and other resources they remain a step behind especially European nations, and this will make it tough against strong Serbia and Switzerland line-ups in Group G. But the Indomitable Lions are also known for being capable of an upset.


Their 7-1 defeat semifinal defeat by Germany on home soil in 2014 shattered Brazilian football. Slowly they’ve been putting the pieces back together and in Qatar will have a line-up that is arguably the strongest on paper — and capable of ending the 20-year drought — since Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho last lifted the trophy in 2002.

Neymar bleeds most from the 2014 failure, when the hopes of a nation were on him. At 31, back from injury and in form for Paris St-Germain, and approaching Pele’s Brazil record of 77 goals on 75, he goes to Qatar with enough experience to right the wrongs and with a better combination around him.

Coach Tite steered Corinthians to two Brazilian titles in the 2000s and a Fifa Club World Cup final win against Chelsea. Since taking over in 2016 he won the 2019 Copa America and Brazil were runners-up in 2021 to Argentina, both on home soil. A quarterfinal exit to Belgium at Russia 2018 was a disappointment.

Brazil went unbeaten in South America’s 10-team qualifying group, winning 14 and drawing three matches where they scored 40 goals and conceded five. Neymar (eight goals) and Tottenham Hotspur forward Richarlison (six) were the Seleção’s top scorers. Their depth is reflected by Tite leaving out Liverpool’s Roberto Firminho in favour of Gabriel Jesus, who has been influential in Arsenal’s rise to the top of the Premier League.

The coach has included 39-year-old former Barcelona right-back Dani Alves, who will operate outside the classy centreback pairing of 38-year-old Thiago Silva (Chelsea) and 28-year-old Marquinhos (PSG). Manchester United’s Fred and Casemiro have as much experience in central midfield. Add 22-year-old starlet Vinícius Júnior, who scored 17 goals as Real Madrid won La Liga in 2021-22 and the winner in the Champions final against Liverpool, and Barcelona’s Raphina in the front line and Brazil have a monstrous combination. Pressure will be their greatest enemy.


Serbian great Dragan Stojković, who earned 84 caps for Yugoslavia, took over in March 2021 and by November that year they reached Qatar undefeated in Uefa’s Group A, beating Portugal (17 points) 2-1 in Lisbon to remain undefeated with 20 points.

Aleksandar Mitrović is Serbia’s all-time top scorer.
Aleksandar Mitrović is Serbia’s all-time top scorer.
Image: Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

An exciting team with an explosive frontline but suspect backline, they scored in every game but also conceded in them all  as they won six and drew two out of eight matches. Stojković — who won a J-League with Nagoya Grampus in five years coaching in Japan — has a fearsome frontline.

Aleksandar Mitrović is Serbia’s all-time top scorer with 50 goals, including the 90th-minute winner in Lisbon. The combative attacker scored an English league record 43 goals in the 2021-22 Championship steering Fulham to promotion. Dušan Tadić was one of the exciting players who helped Ajax Amsterdam reach the 2018-19 Champions League semifinals and scored 16 goals with 22 assists at the Dutch giants last season.

Dušan Vlahović scored 20 goals for Fiorentina in the first half of 2021-22 before moving to Juventus in January, where he added nine more. His teammate at Juventus is hard-running left wing Filip Kostić. Big Lazio playmaker Sergej Milinkovic-Savic can break defences with bulk and eye for a pass.

Serbia can make an impact at World Cup 2022.


Switzerland have the class to give Serbia and Cameroon a tight race for second place. Also unbeaten in the qualifiers with five wins and three draws, the Swiss (18 points) had the best defensive record along with the giants they topped by two points, Italy (16), both conceding only two goals.

Winnger Xherdan Shaqiri, left, and midfielder Remo Freuler are key players for Switzerland.
Winnger Xherdan Shaqiri, left, and midfielder Remo Freuler are key players for Switzerland.
Image: Vedran Galijas/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Two of the reasons for that would have been the hugely experienced midfield duo of Remo Freuler, 30, and Granit Xhaka, 30, and winger Xherdan Shaqiri, 31. Like Brazil’s Jesus, Xhaka has been instrumental in Arsenal leading the Premier League. Freuler played more than 200 games for Atalanta in Serie A before a move to Nottingham Forest at the start of this season.

Shaqiri turned out for Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Liverpool and is now at Chicago Fire in Major League Soccer, and remains a source of muscle and booming shots from the right wing.

Previous coach Vladimir Petković steered Switzerland to the Euro 2020 quarterfinals with a penalties win against France in the last-16, losing on penalties in the quarters against Spain, before leaving to join Girondins Bordeaux.  Murat Yakin, who won Swiss titles with Basel in 2013 and 2014, successfully completed the World Cup qualification campaign from August 2021.

Switzerland reached the World Cup last-16 in 1994, 2006, 2014 and 2018. They have a combination that can get past that stage in 2022.


Cameroon have pedigree in the World Cup and players of quality. The Indomitable Lions are known to be capable of an upset — think Italia 1990, and their dream quarterfinal run. They also should have a feel-good factor from having greatest player Samuel Eto’o as FA president and most-capped player Rigobert Song as coach.

Algeria vs Cameroon - Fifa World Cup Qualification 2022. Karl Toko Ekambi scores the last-gasp winner in Yaounde to send the Indomitable Lions to Qatar.

Cameroon survived a tough qualifying Group D where they won five out of six games (15 points) and lost one, 2-1 away against Ivory Coast (13 points), also seeing off tricky Mozambique and Malawi. In a spectacularly dramatic playoff they lost 1-0 against Algeria away. At home Bayern Munich's Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting struck in the first half to take the tie to extra time where Ahmed Touba appeared to take Algeria to Qatar with a 118th-minute goal. Karl Toko Ekambi struck in the fourth minute of added time for Cameroon to progress on away goals, sparking wild celebrations in Yaoundé.

Vincent Aboubakar, 30, is a Lions legend. The chunky Saudi-based striker has played in three Nations Cups — scoring the 88th-minute winner for the team then coached by Bafana Bafana boss Hugo Broos against Egypt in the 2017 final, and top scoring with eight goals for the semifinalist hosts this year — and two World Cups.

But Lyon’s prolific Toko Ekambi (who has scored 30 goals in 80 games for his club), Inter Milan’s classy goalkeeper André Onana, Napoli midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and the Choupo-Moting make Cameroon a classy and experienced combination. Some are writing the Lions off as Group G wooden spoonists — that would seem a mistake.

* The 2022 Fifa World Cup kicks off on Sunday with the Group A game between hosts Qatar and Ecuador at the 60,000-seat Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor (7pm in Qatar, 6pm South African time).


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