Cameroon's dramatic rise in the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking is reflective of a spectacular revival in their fortunes under Paul Le Guen.
Bottom of their qualifying section when the Frenchman was appointed in July, the Indomitable Lions will now travel to Morocco next month knowing that another win will guarantee them of a place at next year's FIFA World Cup™. Should they indeed emerge triumphant from that 14 November showdown, it will secure an African record sixth appearance at the FIFA World Cup for Cameroon, who started the final round of qualifying by losing to Togo and drawing at home to the Moroccans.
The arrival of Le Guen has been a breath of fresh air and has established a level of professionalism that, according to the players, had not previously been seen. To his credit, the former Lyon, Rangers and Paris St Germain coach has not been afraid to make some brave decisions, such as replacing the legendary Rigobert Song as captain. He has also set new standards off the field, insisting on a proper support staff and business class travel for his side, while also cracking down on the party-like atmosphere that often accompanied national team get-togethers.
Le Guen started with an away win in Austria in a warm-up match in August and then turned the Cameroonian' FIFA World Cup campaign around with back-to-back wins over neighbours Gabon. In a match postponed from June, they won in Libreville, then repeated the feat four days later in Yaounde to the delight of the home fans.
Those victories took Cameroon from the bottom of their section to the top, one point ahead of the Gabonese. Since then, they have kept up that narrow lead in Group A with a 3-0 home win over Togo, knocking the 2006 FIFA World Cup participants out of race for a place in the 2010 finals.
And it is those qualifying results, combined with a 0-0 draw against Angola in a friendly in Portugal on 14 October, that have seen the Indomitable Lions make a leap of 15 places up the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking. Cameroon are now 14th in the world, in fact, just three places off their all-time high of 11th, which they achieved three years ago. They have also established themselves as the best-placed African side in the current Ranking.
The Idomitable Lions will know that, if they beat Morocco next month, they have the chance in South Africa to prove that this status as the mother continent's No1 team is justified.