Lorient striker Benjamin Moukandjo will captain the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon when they face Zambia in a crucial 2018 World Cup qualifier in Limbe on November 12.
This was revealed by coach Hugo Broos at the announcement of his 25-man squad for the tough assignment against the Chipolopolo.
The question came up as a result of the Belgian’s wish to continue with the Lorient player as his skipper, against the wishes of government officials, who favour Stéphane Mbia.
The 30-year-old Mbia was named Cameroon captain in August 2014 by former Minister of Sports Adoum Garoua, but Broos prefers Moukandjo as his leader on the pitch, giving him the armband since the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Gambia on September 3.
In fact, defensive midfielder Mbia is not included in the squad for the match against Zambia.
Speaking at the press conference, Broos explained: ‘I gave a try with Benjamin Moukandjo and I think for now I am satisfied. So for now the captain of the Lions is Moukandjo. He talks well and is well behaved with his team mates.’
When pressed the coach added, ‘I have made my choice. It is the best of our players now and if I have not selected old players like Mbia and Eyong it is because I made my choice.’
Mbia has earned 67 caps for the Indomitable Lions since 2005, while 27-year-old Moukandjo has amassed 36 since his Cameroon debut in 2011.
TRUE Africa sources suggest that there is the usual tug of war between the national team coach and the sports ministry in Cameroon, which has a reputation for making the lives of coaches very difficult, with the inevitable knock-on effect destabilising the team.
Broos keeping faith with Moukandjo and leaving Mbia out of the squad is the Belgian’s way of ensuring he remains in control of the team, and in the Lorient striker he has a popular player who commands the respect of his team-mates.
The Indomitable Lions have a great deal of quality within their squad, but if they are not able to focus on football due to the politics surrounding the team, they will have little chance of qualifying for Russia 2018 from a difficult group that includes Zambia, Nigeria and Algeria.
Cameroon squad for Zambia:
Goalkeepers: Fabrice Ondoa, Andre Onana, Guy Roland Ndy Assembe
Defenders: Adolphe Teikeu, Nicolas Nkoulou, Henry Bedimo, Allan Nyom, Aurelien Chedjou, Ambroise Oyongo, Collins Fai, Michael Ngadeu, Mohamed Djettei, Adolphe Teikeu
Midfielders: Sebastien Siani, Armand Djoum, Georges Mandjeck
Attackers: Clinton Njie, Edgar Salli, Karl Toko Ekambi, Anatole Abang, Jacques Zoua, Choupo Moting, Vincent Aboubakar, Benjamin Moukandjo, Robert Ndip