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Bulls Abroad: Cameroon kicks off 2019 Africa U-23 Cup of Nations qualifying with a win

Cameroon’s men’s U-23 national team is off to a promising start in CAN U-23 qualifying.

Cameroon v Chile: Group B - FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

The Cameroon men’s U-23 national team has started its qualifying campaign for the 2019 Africa U-23 Cup of Nations - a competition that is itself the qualifying pathway for African teams to make it to the 2020 Summer Olympics men’s soccer tournament. If all goes well, the Indomitable Lions will be in Egypt for CAN U-23 next November and in Japan for Olympic soccer the following summer.

Cameroon’s first step toward those goals is a CAN U-23 qualifying series against Chad. The first leg of the home-and-away series was played in Yaounde (Cameroon) on November 16. And the Indomitable Lions will take a 3-0 lead into the second leg in Chad on November 20.

Recently-appointed head coach Rigobert Song has put together a squad for this series that features a number of overseas-based players. That squad has been revealed episodically over the last week or so, as reports of call-ups and arrivals to training camp get pieced together by the media covering the Cameroon soccer beat. The last (we think) addition to the squad was identified by Allez Les Lions: New York Red Bulls defender Hassan Ndam.

Ndam’s late arrival made it unlikely he’d feature in the first leg of the Chad series, but he was named to the bench for the match.

Ultimately, Ndam’s services were not required. Cameroon went into half-time leading 1-0, thanks to an early penalty converted by Martin Hongla. Former Philadelphia Union midfielder Eric Ayuk was credited with winning the PK...

...and he went on to score twice in the second half to give his team a commanding advantage heading into the second leg.

For RBNY’s Ndam, an appearance in this game always seemed improbable - his presence in camp was only noted the day before the match. He should have a better shot at seeing the field in N’Djamena on November 20, by which time he’ll have had a few more days to gel with his teammates and understand Coach Song’s tactical preferences.