The World Cup scouting is back today with a look at both Cameroon and Chile.
With Cameroon making their return to the World Cup scene, having missed out in 2006, the Indomitable Lions will form part of a strong African presence at the 2010 finals. Along with the Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Ghana expectancy levels have risen on what the Africans nations could achieve, especially on home soil.
At the heart of the Cameroon side will be 26-year-old Jean Makoun, a box-to-box midfield player who could prove pivotal to the Lion’s success in Group E against the Netherlands, Denmark and Japan.
Starting his career in his homeland with clubs Cotonsport Garouna, Jeunesse Star and Tonnerre Yaounde, Makoun moved to Europe as a teenager where he signed for Lille. The 5ft 8in athlete contributed to the team’s first ever appearance in the Champions League and subsequent wins over Manchester United and AC Milan.
Fierce in the tackle and renowned for his great energy and stamina levels, Makoun made his name in a seven-year spell with Les Dogues. After over 150 appearances for the French club, the Cameroonian prompted interest from Premier League clubs including Arsenal and Tottenham.
Despite interest from abroad Makoun opted to sign for Lyon in a deal that was rumoured to be worth around £12m. Upon signing for the club Makoun took the number 17 shirt, vacated by the late Marc Vivien-Foe. Makoun promised to honour the shirt in memory of his fellow countryman.
“In memory of Marc, for me and for the whole Cameroon, this will be for something.”
Since joining Lyon in 2008 Makoun has made his name as an athletic midfielder player with an eye for goal, demonstrated by his recent strike against Real Madrid.
An influential figure in Cameroon’s road to South Africa (playing in every single qualifying game) Makoun’s goalscoring record for the Lions is also impressive with seven goals in 37 appearances, including three vital goals against Gabon and Togo.
Likely to be playing alongside Arsenal’s Alex Song , the duo’s midfield combination could prove essential to providing the destructive heart for the African’s chances in this summer’s tournament.
Drawn alongside Spain, Switzerland and Honduras, a battle for a place in the last 16 for Chile is certainly feasible with no stonewall favourite to qualify behind the European champions.
If La Roja are to progress it’s likely Suazo, nicknamed EL Chupete (the dummy), will need to be on top of his game. Boasting an incredible goal scoring record throughout his club and international career, the 28-year-old could finally be recognised on the world stage.
A record so incredible, that in 2005/06, while playing for Chilean side Colo-Colo, the striker netted 70 goals in 75 games and was consequently awarded the IFFHS (International Federation of Football History & Statistics) world’s top goal scorer.
After suffering disciplinary problems at the age of 16 with Universidad Catolica, Suazo took in a further three Chilean league sides before he became settled at third division San Luis in 2003.
El Chupete scored 40 goals in 40 games and re-ignited the promise he could succeed at the top level. Suazo moved to Audax Italiano in the Chilean Premier Division and scored another 40 goals, this time coming in just over 60 games. His form prompted a move to Colo-Colo and then Mexican side Monterry (where he netted another 40+).
Despite a fantastic goal scoring record though, Suazo has been plagued by off-the-field problems with injury and ill-fated discipline (constantly falling out with teammates and supporters). In January 2010 a loan move to Real Zaragoza materialised, and although initial concerns about his weight resulted in Zaragoza’s physical trainer saying ‘He looks fat, but he’s built like a rock,’ Suazo has helped guide the Spanish side out of the relegation zone.
Not exactly shy either, Suazo claimed he would ‘blow the match apart’, before making his debut for Zaragoza against bottom side Xerez – Suazo failed to score.
Truly deadly in the box with a lethal shot and electric pace, Humberto Suazo could become a real surprise package in South Africa, and in terms of the Chilean national team, step out of the shadows of former favourites Ivan Zamarano and Marcelo Salas.