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Murat Yakin will experience his first major international tournament as manager. In his six qualifying games after taking over the reins of the Swiss national team in August 2021, his side remained unbeaten and conceded only one goal along the way.
He brings a deeply experienced squad to Qatar with three players having been capped 100 or more times. Among those selected is talisman Xherdan Shaqiri, who has been directly involved in 48 per cent of Switzerland’s 23 goals over the last four major tournaments, scoring eight times and delivering three assists.
The former Liverpool forward will be playing in his fourth World Cup finals and will be hoping the Swiss are underdogs for the big prize.
“We have many teams who are favourites,” he told reporters. “For sure Brazil, but France also is always a big favourite. Germany is a tournament team, and Spain also. But there are always underdogs who maybe surprise, so we will see which team this is going to be. I hope Switzerland is one of them.”
Cameroon’s new head coach Rigobert Song appeared in the third-most games for the Indomitable Lions at the World Cup as a player (nine), behind Francois Omam-Biyik (11) and Roger Milla (10).
He will be able to call upon Vincent Aboubakar, who scored eight goals at the 2021 African Cup of Nations, the most by any player in a single edition since Ndaye Mulamba with Zaire in 1974 (nine). However, Aboubakar has failed to register a single shot on target in each of his four previous appearances in the FIFA World Cup (two in 2010, and two in 2014).
Having missed the 2018 World Cup, Cameroon will be hoping to return with a bang. They first appeared in the World Cup in 1982, and it was at that tournament in Spain where Les Lions Indomptables captured the imagination of a young Gianluigi Buffon, who has revealed he is a surprise cheerleader for the nation this year.
“It has always been my second team, my favourite Serie B team, ever since the 1982 World Cup,” Buffon recently told Radio Anch’io Sport.
“In 1990 my support was total, with players like N’Kono, Milla, Omam-Biyik who, for me, were heroes.
“The 1990 Cameroon squad I could repeat by heart.”