Cameroon head coach Hugo Broos said he was disappointed with his team's performance last week, when the Indomitable Lions struggled to a 2-2 home draw with South Africa. He made that disappointment very clear with a starting lineup that swapped out several erstwhile starters for fresher faces, including the New York Red Bulls' Anatole Abang. The 19-year-old was a surprise selection when this squad was named, but appears to have gone from strength to strength in his national team coach's estimation: winning a first cap and then a first start in quick succession.
Abang, who lasted about an hour before being subbed out, now has the unusual distinction of having played more minutes for his national team (about 90 over the last two games) than his club side this season (a season that, admittedly, only started for RBNY at the beginning of March; Abang has played 46 minutes in two off-the-bench appearances). And his first start for Cameroon was his first competitive start for either club or country since the 2016 MLS season kicked off.
The Lions eventually played South Africa to a 0-0 draw: a result that leaves Bafana Bafana with only a remote mathematical chance of qualifying (they need to win both their remaining games, and have Cameroon very specifically tie Mauritania and lose to Gambia for a shot at winning the qualifying group on goal difference).
Cameroon remains undefeated in Group M of this final stage of qualifying for AFCON 2017. Only the group winner is guaranteed a spot at next year's tournament.
For the Lions, it means a great deal rests on getting at least a point out of June's trip to Mauritania. Anatole Abang returns to RBNY with more playing experience than he had when he left Harrison for this international break, which can only presumably be to his benefit when he returns to the task of winning his club coach's attention on the training ground.