Preview: Cameroon vs. Panama
Cameroon round off their World Cup preparations when they go head to head with Panama in a friendly matchup at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium on Friday.
The Central African side have been drawn into Group G of the tournament and will be vying to challenge Serbia and Switzerland for second place behind favourites Brazil.
After missing out on the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Cameroon have returned to the tournament four years later thanks to a nerve-racking qualifying campaign.
The Indomitable Lions picked up five wins and lost one of their six matches to collect 15 points and claim top spot in Group D, edging out Ivory Coast to set up a playoff clash with Algeria.
Following a 1-0 first-leg defeat against in Douala courtesy of a solitary strike from Islam Slimani on March 25, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s away goal four days later sent the return leg into extra time.
Ahmed Touba netted what appeared to be the decider in the 118th minute, but Lyon forward Karl Toko Ekambi restored parity in the fourth minute of stoppage time to dash the hearts of the Greens and send Cameroon through to Qatar.
Prior to their playoff victory, Rigobert Song’s side enjoyed a thrilling run in the Africa Cup of Nations on home soil, where they fell short to Egypt in the semi-finals before edging out Burkina Faso on penalties to secure the bronze medal.
However, Cameron have struggled to grind out results in their recent outings, managing just one draw and losing two of their three friendly outings since beating Burundi 1-0 in their 2023 AFCON qualifying opener on June 9.
This has been owing to their lack of sting in attack, where they have scored just one goal across their last three outings, which came courtesy of Djawal Kaiba’s equaliser in last week’s 1-1 draw against Jamaica.
Cameroon, who are making their fifth World Cup appearance, will head into Friday in search of a morale-boosting result as they look to make it past the group stages for the first time since 1990, when they reached the quarter-finals.
Panama, on the other hand, failed to secure back-to-back appearances at the World Cup as they finished fifth in the CONCACAF qualifying standings, narrowly missing out on a place in the playoffs.
Thomas Christiansen’s men picked up six wins, three draws and lost five of their qualifying matches to collect 21 points, four points off fourth-placed Costa Rica in the playoffs qualification spot.
This served as a catalyst for a fine run in June’s CONCACAF Nations League, where they enjoyed an unbeaten campaign and clinched top spot in Group B with seven points from three matches.
However, Los Canaleros appear to have run out of steam in recent outings as they head into the weekend winless in each of their last three friendlies, claiming two draws and losing once since a 2-0 win over Bahrain on September 27.
Panama, whose first and only World Cup appearance came in Russia four years ago, have managed just one friendly victory since October 2020, losing five and claiming four draws in 10 outings.
Cameroon International Friendlies form:
Cameroon form (all competitions):
Panama International Friendlies form:
Panama form (all competitions):
We say: Cameroon 2-1 Panama
Both sides have struggled to grind out results in recent weeks and will be looking to finally arrest their slumps. However, Cameroon possess the firepower needed to get the job done and will fancy their chances of picking up a morale-boosting result. We predict an exciting contest at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium with the Indomitable Lions coming out victorious.