Nicolas N’Koulou played 90 minutes after ten months, in his historic return with the Cameroon national team after an interval of more than 5 ½ years!
Today (23/9) can be described as historic for the Cameroonian central defender of Aris who is in South Korea participating in the mission of his country’s national team. It is also historic for the Cameroonian media as in the friendly match that ended a while ago, the experienced central defender once again wore the jersey with the national emblem. It took more than 5½ years as the previous time was in his final Copa Africa, in the final against Egypt where he had scored one of the two goals that ensured his country won the trophy. Then his bad relations with the leadership of the Cameroonian federation prevailed and led to his long-term abstention from the national team.
The sending of an invitation and its acceptance by N’Koulou was one of the issues that preoccupied the Cameroonian sports media, obviously the same will apply to his substantial return. Cameroon were beaten 0-2 by Uzbekistan in the friendly but the 32-year-old centre-back was in the starting line-up as he was at the center of a trio in defence.
Herein lies the second equally important element as to encounter N’Koulou’s last full game one would have to travel back to November 2021 when he was in Watford. He pitched a complete game in the loss to the Arsenal 1-0 and two weeks later (20/11/2021) he played for 64 minutes in his team’s win over Manchester United.
A “dead” period followed to reach about two weeks ago and the away victory of Aris against Astera Tripoli. The Cameroonian was used in the last 19 minutes of the match and even in a special role as he was placed in the center of the midfield. But it seems that the almost zero participation time he recorded in the last ten months has not affected the thoughts of the people of Cameroon. The invitation sent to him in conjunction with today’s 90 minutes in the friendly game against Uzbekistan (they won 0-2) show that the participation of the player from Mars in the team for the final phase of the World Cup has been decided and essentially give him time to get ready