"Cameroon Must Uphold Its Strong Football Traditions": Although Cameroon Achieved a Sixth Appearance at the World Cup Finals, Which Is an African Record, Midfielder Alexandre Song Admits to Peter Law (in an Interview Granted before the Tournament) That the Indomitable Lions Must Work Hard to Restore Their Battered Reputation
Law, Peter, New African
African Football: The Indomitable Lions have struggled to produce top grade performances. What must be done to produce good results against the world's best teams?
Alexandre Song: We just have to function better as a unit. Our team recently had an infusion of new players, just brought in over the last few months. This left us with little time to bond together and has clearly affected, negatively, our level of cohesion. Hopefully, we have learnt a valuable lesson for the future.
AF: How has Le Guen changed the shape and mentality of the Indomitable Lions?
AS: He has instilled a lot more discipline in the team. Things are not as relaxed as they were before. It is important to uphold our strong football traditions and do the very best that we can for the country.
AF: Before opting to play for Cameroon at the senior level, you featured for France's Under-16 side ...
AS: I enjoyed playing for France, alongside Samir Nasri and Ben, because we had a very good team. But making the ultimate choice to play for Cameroon was a choice of the heart and I have had no occasion to regret it.
AF: Although you're a midfielder, you've had a spell playing in central defence for Cameroon. Do you enjoy that position?
AS: I had the chance to play alongside my uncle (Rigobert Song) when we played at home against Tanzania in the World Cup qualifiers. It was my dream to play next to him. I enjoyed it a lot, as I learnt a lot ... Being a central defender, he normally plays behind me, so it was a completely different experience to play alongside him. So, I'd be happy to try it again if I was asked to do it.
AF: You'll be making your World Cup debut in South Africa but your uncle (who made his debut at the 1994 World Cup) will be making his fourth World Cup appearance ...
AS: No doubt it's a milestone for me, my uncle and the entire country too. Do not forget that we failed to qualify for the last tournament in Germany. If we do well in South Africa, we will do a lot in making the people back home really happy. While I admit that a good World Cup will do a lot for my career, it's not just about us.
AF: Has your relationship with your uncle played a key role in the development of your career?
AS: Certainly. He has played a big role in what I have become today. When I started out as a professional, facing a lot of challenges in my career, his wealth of experience and knowledge served as a very useful guide. I used to talk to him a lot after games and he provided me with a lot of important advice.
AF: But he has received a lot of criticism for his form over the last two years, with his performance at the last Nations Cup being a focal point. Many think your uncle no longer has the pace to cope with the physical demands of international football ...
AS: It will be a while before Cameroon have a player of his quality again. He is very charismatic and has done a lot to help the young players in the team. When he lost the captaincy, he maintained a dignified silence and continues to play his part in the team. …