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Cameroon 1990: Celebrating Africa's World Cup pioneers

3:38 PM EST 11/27/22
Cameroon 1990: Classic Teams
GOAL’s Ed Dove remembers the Indomitable Lions side that broke new ground for African teams at the World Cup
  • Gary Lineker of England scores the second penalty against goalkeeper Thomas Nkono of the Cameroon during the 1990 FIFA World Cup Quarter Final

    Thomas N’Kono

    Was Cameroon’s starting goalkeeper at the 1990 tournament, being named ahead of long-term rival Joseph-Antoine Bell for the competition.

    He remains one of only two African goalkeepers to have won the African Footballer of the Year award, having been honoured in 1979 and 1982.

    He spent eight years in Spanish football with Espanyol.

  • Roger Milla & Cameroon 1990 World Cup

    Victor N’Dip

    Starting centre-back, N’Dip was conservative in possession but not adverse to some tough tackling when looking to retrieve the ball.

    He was fortune not to have been sent off in the Argentina game, but ultimately featured for every minute until the elimination by England.

  • Francois Omam-Biyik, Stephan Tataw, Roger Milla of Cameroon, 1990

    Stephen Tataw

    Late Cameroon captain who was one of four players who featured for every minute during the tournament in Italy, Tataw was the side’ starting right-back.

    He was also influential in starting attacking moves, regularly attempting to seek out Francois Omam-Biyik, and was unfortunate to have missed out on the Team of the Tournament.

  • Emmanuel Kunde

    Operated as a sweeper in the heart of the defence, and saw a lot of the ball, taking more proactive ball-using responsibilities off Onana and N’Dip.

    He scored from the spot against England after Paul Gascoigne had fouled Roger Milla.

  • Diego Maradona of Argentina, Cameroon's Benjamin Massing, 1990

    Benjamin Massing

    Infamous for his red card in the opening game, as he appeared to have broken poor Claudio Caniggia in half with an outrageous lunching tackle which was so forceful that Massing even lost his boot in the process.

    He’d return to the starting XI for the defeat by England.

  • Bertin Ebwelle

    Bertin Ebwelle

    Another player who featured for every minute, Ebwelle operated on the left side of the defence and while his primary focus was defensive, he still sought to support the team’s attacking players from deep.

  • Rigobert Song & Louis Paul Mfede

    Louis-Paul M’Fede

    Creative left-sided midfield talent who was named in the Team of the Tournament as Cameroon won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1988.

    He took responsibility for many of the side’s freekicks, and was one of the more accomplished players in the squad having spent four years at Stade Rennais.

  • Francois Omam Biyick of Cameroon vs England's Des Walker

    Francois Omam-Biyik

    Scorer of the most famous goal in Cameroon football history when he leapt above the Argentina defence to head home beyond the fumbling Nery Pumpido as the Indomitable Lions defeated the reigning champions in their World Cup opener.

    He was also an underrated creator in the final third, with his interplay with Milla proving one of the Lions’ major assets, and missed a big chance against England.

  • Andre Kana-Biyik

    Andre Kana-Biyik

    Francois’ brother, Andre was sent off in Cameroon’s opener after a foul on Caniggia—the first player ever to see red in a World Cup opener.

    The central midfielder returned to the team for the defeat by USSR and the victory over Colombia.

  • Emile M'Bouh of Cameroon, Argentina's Calderon, 1990

    Emile M’Bouh

    Kana-Biyik’s midfield partner, M’Bouh played every minute of Cameroon’s first four matches but was replaced by Thomas Libiih for the England game.

  • Cyrille Makanaky of Cameroon, 1990

    Cyrille Makanaky

    One of the great underrated attackers in African football history, Makanaky operated just off Omam-Biyik, providing a creative spark in the final third and linking midfield and attack.

    He was one of the brightest offensive talents on show at Italia 90.

  • Roger Milla Cameroon 1990 World Cup

    Roger Milla

    The star of Cameroon’s team…eventually, Milla was only included in the squad after Cameroon’s poor showing at the 1990 Nations Cup and the intervention of President Paul Biya.

    Then 38, he stepped into a super-sub role, netting doubles against Romania and Colombia while coming off the bench to register an assist and win a penalty in the quarter-final against England.

    His hip-shimmying corner flag Makossa celebration has become one of the defining images of Africa’s contribution to the World Cup.

  • Thomas Libiih

    Valuable utility man who came on as a substitute for the opener against Argentina, as Cameroon looked to compensate for their red cards, and also played throughout the quarter-final.

  • Jacques Songo'o of Cameroon

    Jacques Songo’o

    Didn’t feature in Italy, but would make almost 100 appearances for the national side, starting for Cameroon at the ’98 World Cup.

  • Jules Onana

    Jules Onana

    Came into the team after Massing’s red card and featured in the next three matches, Onana partnered N’Dip in the centre of defence for the victories over Romania and Colombia.

    His long ball forward set up Milla for the opener against Romania.

  • Emmanuel Maboang

    First-choice right midfielder who featured in three matches including both knockout clashes.
  • Jean-Claude Pagal of Cameroon, England's Chris Waddle, 1990

    Jean-Claude Pagal

    Back-up defensive option who was introduced in both the Romania and USSR matches, before starting the England game.

  • Bonaventure Djonkep

    Union Douala forward who has introduced as a substitute in the victory over Colombia. He was the Cameroon Elite One’s top scorer in 1981.

  • Eugene Ekeke

    Only give one appearance—coming on against England—and scored a fine chipped effort with one of his first touches after being set up by Milla to send Cameroon 2-1 up.

  • Joseph-Antoine Bell of Cameroon

    Joseph-Antoine Bell

    Legendary Cameroon stopper who vied with N’Kono for the starting berth in the team throughout his international career.

    He was a multi-Africa Cup of Nations winner, but was also part of the squad that were eliminated in the group stage in 1994.

    Bell didn’t play a single minute during the 1990 tournament.