While Vincent Aboubakar has not enjoyed the most productive of seasons with Valenciennes in Ligue 1, having only found the net on four occasions, more than one scout has been monitoring his progress. The up-and-coming Cameroonian forward burst onto the international scene at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ with Cameroon.
Chatting exclusively to FIFA.com, Aboubakar reflected on his appearance on the big stage, which came when he was still only 18, making him one of the youngest players in the competition: “Above all it was a very rewarding experience. I was able to rub shoulders with the greatest players on the planet and it made a huge impact on me.
“The atmosphere was fantastic and I got a taste of football at the very highest level,” he added. “Representing your country is always special, and even more so at the World Cup.”
Sadly for the Indomitable Lions, they fluffed their lines at the first FIFA World Cup to be staged in Africa, slumping to three defeats in as many games and tumbling out of the competition at the first hurdle. Making noteworthy entrances as a substitute in the games against Denmark and the Netherlands, the teenager at least had the consolation of a three-year contract with French club Valenciennes, signed before the tournament got under way.
A leading light of his generation at Cotonsport, Cameroon’s number one club and the setting where he learned his trade, the Yaounde-born forward initially found it hard to adjust to life in northern France, with the weather and cultural differences making life difficult.
Justifying the move
Aboubakar is determined to make the move an ultimately successful one, and has no regrets about his decision to decamp to Europe: “I got a great welcome here and it’s an ideal club for me to put some work in and get some games.”
Valenciennes coach Daniel Sanchez has been impressed by his young charge and believes the powerful and selfless forward can only get better: “He does interesting things, especially in training, the kind of things that don’t always come off in games because of a lack of maturity and confidence. He’s got the talent and plenty of potential to improve, though.”
Enjoying far more opportunities in his second season in France than in the first, Aboubakar is now aiming to back up his progress with some solid statistics.
“In training I’ve been putting in a lot of hard work on my finishing and creativity in front of goal,” he explained. Valenciennes fans will be hoping that dedication is rewarded before too long, especially with the side sitting in 13th place, just four points above the relegation zone, and with games against heavy-hitters Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain to come during their final run-in.
“The big sides are going for the title or Champions League places, while we’re battling to survive,” he said. “Everyone’s got their own objectives and at this stage of the season it all comes down to motivation and desire.”
The road to Brazil
Motivation is something Aboubakar will not be lacking when Cameroon renew their bid to qualify for Brazil 2014 in early June. The Indomitable Lions have been drawn against Congo DR, Libya and Togo in Group I of the CAF qualifying competition's second round. Aboubakar, for one, is not taking anything for granted.
“I don’t feel as if we’re the favourites, and it would be dangerous for us to even think that way,” he warned. “These days the minnows can beat the big boys if they show a greater desire and want it more. That means we have to stay grounded and give our all.”
With Valenciennes’ Ligue 1 status to defend and tussling it out for a trip to Brazil 2014 on the table, desire is a commodity the goal-hungry Aboubakar will surely be showing plenty of in the coming weeks and months.