Freshly minted Cameroon international, Anatole Abang, is in South Africa for the conclusion of Cameroon's March adventures in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.
On March 26, in what was effectively the first leg of a home-and-away series against Bafana Bafana, the Indomitable Lions struggled to contain their opponent. Cameroon head coach, Hugo Broos, had noted in pre-match interviews that the South Africans - still winless in this stage of 2017 AFCON qualifying - were not getting results consistent with their apparent strength as a team. In Cameroon, that very nearly changed: the Lions twice needed to equalize to hold off a determined South African challenge.
For Cameroon, this de facto second leg sees Vincent Aboubakar return from suspension. That is a welcome fillip for the Lions, though it does push Abang further down the depth chart of available forwards in the squad. The young Red Bull won his first national team cap last week and didn't do much wrong, but he might reasonably be considered less likely to see playing time in this week's game.
Broos has stated he hoped to get sufficient points out of March qualifying to allow for experimentation with younger players later in the year. That dream took a substantial hit when Bafana Bafana left Cameroon with a point and the moral victory. But if the Lions can get three points on the road, and Gambia does them a favor against Mauritania (the primary challenger to Cameroon in Group M of AFCON qualifying, at the moment), then perhaps there will still be a chance for younger players - like Abang - to gather experience in forthcoming competitive fixtures.
If he sees playing time again in this match, it will be a very encouraging sign for Abang's prospects in a Broos-led Cameroon set-up: it means the new head coach has already identified something he likes about the young forward. But that point was arguably proven when Abang was summoned from the bench to help the Lions find an equalizer in their last game.
This next match is important for the Lions' short-term (AFCON qualifying) and longer-term (win opportunity to explore the player pool later in the year) plans. If Abang doesn't make the match-day squad (Aboubakar's return means there is one more forward available to the 18) or the field, it is not necessarily a mark against him. The immediate task is simply to get a point or three in South Africa. Abang's future with his national team does not rest on this match, but his future opportunities will be greatly influenced by the outcome.
So from a New York Red Bulls' perspective, one might well root for Abang to get some minutes on the field; but if you take the longer-term view, root simply for Cameroon to win - because that is the outcome most likely to deliver Abang serious minutes later in the year.
South Africa vs Cameroon
When: 1:00 pm, Eastern; March 29, 2016
Where: Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban, South Africa
TV: Seems not.