"Lions" dream of the finale: "Choupo" inspires Cameroon's wild ambitions

At FC Bayern, he is the sensation of the season so far alongside Jamal Musiala: Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting impressively made star striker Robert Lewandowski forget about the record champions.

"Lions" dream of the finale: "Choupo" inspires Cameroon's wild ambitions

At FC Bayern, he is the sensation of the season so far alongside Jamal Musiala: Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting impressively made star striker Robert Lewandowski forget about the record champions. But he should also inspire Cameroon. But the country is repeating the old mistakes.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting appears to be very powerful. Because he was not on the pitch at the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year, complained openly and loudly about it, boycotted the game for third place and then said goodbye to his career in the national jersey with a crash, but also (or mainly) because his national team failed in the semi-finals of their home tournament, Cameroon coach Toni Conceicao was fired at the behest of President Paul Biya.

The "lions" were once again broken by the gigantic expectations. The country has not learned from this. At the World Cup in Qatar, popular hero and association leader Samuel Eto'o is now demanding a place in the final. And Rigobert Song, who is still known as the iconic central defender at 1. FC Köln, also has similarly absurd ambitions. He calls at least the semi-finals. The legends in Cameroon are unanimous. And they agree that the returned Choupo-Moting is the man destined to make these wondrous things possible. The highly praised is a little more cautious with the forecasts, you could say: more realistic: "We have to go step by step. But of course we want to make progress." Cameroon's last World Cup appearances were rather unfortunate. Not qualified in Russia, before that bottom of group, bottom of group, not qualified.

The 33-year-old actually did wonders at Bayern Munich. When a heated "Nine" debate broke out around Munich, when coach Julian Nagelsmann had to overcome his aversion to the center striker, Choupo-Moting offered himself as a problem solver. Probably nobody expected that this offer would become a mega bargain in international football. The record champion solved his crisis of earnings and meaning from his own stock. Nick Salihamidžić, young footballer at FC Bayern and son of the sports director who happily tweets, even raised the question of whether Choupo-Moting is currently the best nine in the world. In view of Erling Haaland, Lewandowski, Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappé and whatever their names are, that was a little daring.

The fact is, however, that the 33-year-old is probably in the best condition of his life. At least he has never been so important and so present. In Cameroon they are now hoping for gigantic free-rider effects. "In the end you have to say that it was lucky for Cameroon that Robert Lewandowski left FC Bayern," said Winfried Schäfer, Cameroon's national coach from 2001 to 2004, in an interview with the German Press Agency about the former substitute Poland, meanwhile, continue to fight desperately against the goal-at-a-World Cup curse and even missed a penalty against Mexico.

This World Cup "zero" then closes the circle to Lewandowski. Because Choupo-Moting is still waiting for the goal that was denied to him in 2010 and 2014. Against Switzerland at the start (11 a.m. in the live ticker on ntv.de) would be a good chance – he is very familiar with goals against Bundesliga keeper, in Switzerland there is likely to be one in goal with Yann Sommer from Borussia Mönchengladbach. He would also further improve his starting position in the upcoming contract poker. The record champions want to hold talks about extending the contract with Choupo-Moting after the World Cup. "We will try everything to ensure that he stays with us," said sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.

Choupo-Moting is currently moving on the highest paths in world football. As the portal "The Athletic" has determined, in the top 5 leagues in Europe only three players were involved in more goals per game than the native of Hamburg, for whom incidentally in his entire professional career not even a fee had been paid (crazy) : Erling Haaland, Neymar and Lewandowski. "Self-confidence thanks to a tailwind, good form, luck in the game, good communication - everything is just right for him at the moment," said Volker Finke, who was the coach of the "untamable lions" from 2013 to 2015 and also coached Choupo-Moting at the time.

The game against Switzerland was "quasi a final because they have Brazil in the group and somehow have to finish second," said Schäfer about Cameroon's chances. Choupo-Moting knows that too. "Our first goal must be to get through in the group," he confessed in an interview on Bayern's website: "For me, ours is one of the toughest groups in the tournament." The 33-year-old believes that the strengths of the Cameroonians are their team spirit and unity. "We don't have big stars in the team that stand out like Roger Milla or Samuel Eto'o used to." The biggest star is himself.

Nobody would have bet on that in February.

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