Cameroon surprises with World Cup selections
Cameroon called up Tottenham defender Sebastien Bassong to its 30-man provisional World Cup squad on Tuesday and also included veterans Geremi and Rigobert Song.
There had been public calls for the pair, who have both played more than 100 games for their country, to be left out of Cameroon's World Cup plans by coach Paul Le Guen after disappointing performances at the African Cup of Nations earlier this year.
Le Guen also picked Inter Milan striker Samuel Eto'o and Arsenal midfielder Alexandre Song in his initial squad.
The 23-year-old Bassong, who did not make Le Guen's Cup of Nations squad in Angola, was rewarded for his impressive form for his club in the English Premier League this season. Tottenham teammate Benoit Assou-Ekotto was also in the squad.
Eto'o is expected to lead Cameroon's attack in South Africa. The 29-year-old forward is his country's best player and made his World Cup debut in France in 1998 at the age of 17 — the youngest player at the tournament.
Frenchman Le Guen also named three home-based players, defender Jean Patrick Abouna Ndzana, midfielder Patrick Mevoungou and striker Vincent Aboubakar. Their inclusion was a surprise move, with Cameroon's international squads traditionally made up of the country's many players operating in European leagues.
Also part of the group are goalkeepers Idriss Kameni of Espanyol, Lyon midfielder Jean Makoun and Marseille's Stephane Mbia.
Like fellow African qualifiers Ivory Coast and Nigeria, Cameroon is under pressure to perform at the World Cup after a disappointing showing in Africa's continental tournament in January.
Cameroon, the four-time African champion and former Olympic gold medallist, lost to eventual champion Egypt in the quarter-finals of the Cup of Nations.
Le Guen's squad is set to travel to Paris for a training camp beginning May 20. It has planned World Cup warm-up matches against Georgia on May 25 and Slovakia on May 29 and a match against Serbia on June 3.
The Indomitable Lions, who brought the world's attention to the growing strength of African football with their run to the World Cup quarterfinals in 1990, are grouped with Netherlands, Denmark and Japan at the 2010 tournament.
Goalkeepers: Hamidou Souleymanou (Kayserispor), Idriss Carlos Kameni (Espanyol), Guy Roland Ndy Assembe (Valenciennes), Amour Patrick Tignyemb (Bloemfontein Celtic)
Defenders: Jean Patrick Abouna Ndzana (Astres de Douala), Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Tottenham), Sebastien Bassong (Tottenham), Gaetan Bong (Valenciennes), Aurelien Chedjou (Lille), Geremi Njitap (Ankaragucu), Stephane Mbia (Marseille), Makadji Boukar (Al Nahdha), Nicolas Nkoulou (Monaco), Rigobert Song (Trabzonspur)
Midfielders: Marcel Ndjeng (Augsburg), Enoh Eyong Tarkang (Ajax), Jean II Makoun (Lyon), Georges Mandjeck (Kaiserslautern), Joel Matip (Schalke), Patrick Mevoungou (Canon Sportif de Yaounde), Landry Nguemo (Celtic), Alexandre Song (Arsenal)
Forwards: Vincent Aboubakar (Coton Sport), Eric Choupo-Moting (Nuremberg), Achille Emana (Betis), Samuel Eto'o (Inter Milan), Mohamadou Idrissou (Freiburg), Rostand Dorge Kouemaha (Brugges), Achille Webo (Mallorca), Jacques Zoua (FC Basel)