M’Bia return boosts Cameroon

Stephane M’Bia is set to make his return from injury and suspension as Cameroon bid to qualify from Group D – ‘the group of death’ at the Africa Cup of Nations.

After both opening games finished 1-1, a win for any side in the sold-out double-header in Malabo on Saturday, which sees Ivory Coast’s clash with Mali followed by Cameroon v Guinea, would make a huge difference to their chances of qualifying.

“We have had two very good, very intense training sessions and we are ready,” said coach Wolker Finke, who will make two changes because M’Bia returns and right-sided midfielder Eyong Enoh is injured.

“We watched videos of our last game [1-1 v Mali] to focus on where we could improve, and worked on it in training. It will be tunnel vision for us, don’t look left, don’t look right, just focus on what you have to do.

“And we will respect Guinea. They have a young team, with several good players, and I think Ibrahima Traore is the key for them. He is doing very well at Borussia Monchengladbach, he plays on the right side, uses his left foot, is very quick and has good technique. He is dangerous.”

M’Bia, who said he was very pleased to be back in action, agreed. “It’s important we respect them 100%,” he said. “Guinea have a lot of quality.”

Finke added that he was not bothered where the goals come from, as long as Cameroon score. Their forwards had few chances against Mali and defender Ambroise Oyongo scored the equaliser. “When we attack we have six men up so there will always be a full-back there, whether it’s right side or left,” said Finke.

“And when we defend we have nine back. We need our defenders to attack, our attackers to defend. It’s not a problem for me who scores.”

The defence conceded only one goal in six qualifying games, with Sevilla’s M’Bia dropping into the back four alongside Olympique Marseille’s highly impressive central defender Nicolas N’Koulou, who is having an outstanding season for the French title-challengers. “Nicolas is one of our key men, one of our leaders,” said Finke.