Hugo Broos takes on his first assignment with the Cameroon national team with an Africa Cup of Nations qualifying double header against floundering South Africa.
Former Club Brugge and Anderlecht boss Broos was the surprise choice to replace the sacked Volker Finke last month and inherits a team sitting top of qualifying Group M after two matches.
Victories over Mauritania and Gambia in their opening games have put Cameroon in the box seat to reach the 2017 tournament in Gabon and Broos is encouraged by his early impressions of the squad.
“My first contact with the team has been good,” he told a news conference.
“The difficulty now will be remembering the names and faces of the players! I met with the group and there are no additional injuries.”
One man who will be missing for Broos’ bow is Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who pulled out of the squad through injury.
“Last Saturday Choupo-Moting was on the Schalke bench in the league,” complained Broos. “Afterwards he called me to tell me he’s injured.
“I wonder how Schalke can put an injured player on the bench.”
But Broos is confident of being able to field a competitive team for the first of two clashes with South Africa in Limbe on Saturday, before the reverse fixture is played three days later.
“We’ll put out a team that is ready and will fight to the last minute,” he added. “Then we’ll see – this is football.”
For South Africa, the fixtures could be pivotal to their chances of qualification. They have reached all but two of the last 11 AFCON Tournaments, but sit bottom of the group in serious danger of crashing out.
Only group winners are guaranteed to progress, with the two best runners-up of the 12 groups that consist of four teams also making the tournament.
A disappointing goalless draw at home to Gambia in their opener was followed by a 3-1 defeat in Mauritania and, on paper, Cameroon should provide their toughest challenge yet.
Ephraim Mashaba’s men know they can ill afford to drop many more points if they harbour hopes of making it to Gabon, but they have at least generated momentum with victory over two legs against Angola to reach the final round of World Cup qualifying.
The two teams drew 1-1 in a friendly last January, which was the first time they had met since 2008.
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