The recent transfer of the Cameroonian striker to Jiangsu Suning has reshaped the debate on the captaincy within the national team. The majority considering that a player who plays in China would not deserve to be the captain of the African championship team in title.
His career took a turning point that no one else expected. Given his age (28 years) and his club statistics (25 games, 13 goals with Lorient in Ligue 1 last season), some sports commentators saw him rebound in a new Ligue 1 club in France or in England as announced with Birmingham‘s offer in the Championship.
Benjamin Moukandjo said NAY!. For 5.5 million euros of transfer, the Cameroonian striker chose China, this new Eldorado of footballers in search of huge wages. He leaves an ultra-mediated championship, for another much more obscure. An unexpected choice that puts on the table of the debate, his future as captain of the national selection of Cameroon.
In the footsteps of Mbia?
Before Benjamin Moukandjo, the previous captain of the Indomitable Lions had to face all sorts of criticism when he signed in Hebei, another Super League club in China, after doubling the Europa League with Sevilla. Some people felt that it was unacceptable for the captain of the “Kings of the Forest” to compete in a championship of such a low level, a championship without sporting attractiveness. As a result of the race, his game had fallen considerably, to the point of having repercussions on his performances in national selection. The prove was on 26 March 2016 in Limbe.
Cameroon was hosting South Africa in the third round of the Africa Cup of Nations (AfCON) 2017 qualifying round. A poor performer in a Cameroonian game where he spent most of the time to spoil opportunities instead of building them, Mbia had then changed into a lesson-giving lessor for young players in the den. What he did not know was that it was his last game with the Lions.
The challenge of constancy
Benjamin Moukandjo is not Stéphane Mbia. The two may not end up in the same way. Yet the former would not be far from having the same fate as the latter. The low level of the Chinese championship could have a bad effect on his performance. A bit like Christian Bassogog who certainly scores often in club, but not in selection. Now that Moukandjo is in China, each of his matches will be rigorously assessed. He who has not convinced at the Confederations Cup held last month in Russia.
Critics will be more vindictive. He now faces the challenge of consistency in both the club and the national team. Because Cameroon needs a captain who has a good playing time, and whose performances have a positive impact in the performance of the selection. Many will wait for him on Sept. 04 in Yaoundé, against Nigeria in a cut match of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.