Denis Lavagne, the national coach of Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions gives us his reasons for attending the Orange Africa Cup of Nations.
How come you’ve come here to Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea, during the 28th Africa Cup of Nations?
I came to watch the teams taking part in the 2012 ACN whilst looking ahead to the qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup, where we are going to play Libya. It was therefore a good opportunity to watch this team, and to work out their strengths and weaknesses. Also, we’ll meet one of these 16 teams during the second qualifying round for the 2013 ACN, so it’s a good opportunity to see all the teams and try to learn as much about them as possible.
We didn’t see Libya at their best when they lost to Equatorial Guinea. What do you make of the current form of one of your future opponents?
It’s true that Libya didn’t play well in the match against Equatorial Guinea, and they looked a little short of fitness. They also lacked a little depth in their game, and had difficulty getting forward. That was only Libya’s first match, and we’ll have a much better idea of their style by watching all of their matches in this first round. However, just by looking at this first match, we can see that they are a well-organized team. We must remember that these matches won’t be played until June, so we don’t know how much this team will change between now and then, but if they continue to play the same kind of game that we saw there, then we have a chance.
What’s your opinion of the matches you’ve seen so far at the 2012 Orange Africa Cup of Nations?
We have seen some good quality matches, particularly the match between Morocco and Tunisia, which was played at a good level between two good teams, and produced some exciting moments. Zambia look to be playing well too, while Côte d’Ivoire have also been solid The Ivorians were playing a match which they had to win, but without taking too many risks. They looked a little tentative as they didn’t want to drop points against Sudan. They kept their shape well and that made the difference. However, I didn’t expect such a poor showing from Senegal, who had a really poor start in their match. They had the chance to equalize towards the end, but they looked short of physical fitness and lacking in attack. We’ll see how they do in their second match, but it must be said that they were defeated by a Zambian side who were very well organized. They created a lot and caused the Senegal team plenty of difficulties by using the space well, working closely together, and defending well with some very eye-catching play. Perhaps Zambia will be the surprise package of the 2012 Orange Africa Cup of Nations.
How are the Indomitable Lions doing at the moment?
It’s going well at the moment. We haven’t played since November, when we performed well in the tournament in Marrakech, where we beat Sudan and drew with Morocco, who are both currently participating in the 2012 Orange Africa Cup of Nations. We are now preparing for our match against Guinea-Bissau on February 29. The players are still with their clubs at the moment, but unfortunately Stéphane Mbia was injured last weekend and he won’t be available for three weeks or maybe even a month. I don’t think he will be fit for the match against Guinea-Bissau, which is a shame for us. I think we have a big squad and are able to field a quality team for each match and cope with any absences. We just have to hope that we don’t have too many injuries.
Has Samuel Eto’o’s suspension had a negative effect on the team?
Interview by Priscille G. Moadougou, reporting from Malabo