Paul Le Guen has defended his Cameroon side following their exit from the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, saying that the experience itself in Angola was beneficial.
The four-time African champions were beaten 3-1 by Egypt on Monday to end a disappointing campaign, which began with a shock 1-0 loss to Gabon in their tournament opener. However, the French coach insists there are plenty of positives to take out, pointing towards the young players in the squad that he opted to bring in ahead of the FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa later this year.
Addressing a press conference following their arrival back in Yaounde, he said: "I knew my team had question marks over it before we went to the tournament and one of those should be the inclusion of youth, which I knew carries risks. I made the choice of regeneration to give new impetus to this team. I think the match against Egypt showed that I was justified in doing this."
I made the choice of regeneration to give new impetus to this team. I think the match against Egypt showed that I was justified in doing this
His last comment referred to the way the Indomitable Lions fought against the Pharaohs, only to be beaten in extra time. However, the same game also saw him omit the country's most capped and experienced player, Rigobert Song.
Quizzed about the future of the veteran defender and several other of the older players, including Geremi Njitap, Le Guen responded: "The players deserve great respect. They qualified the team for the Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup. They deserve the respect of coach, the public and the press. I have for these players a deep respect."
Another player that came in for criticism was goalkeeper Carlos Kameni. "Kameni has played some good games and I've followed his career with Espanyol," he said. "It is for me to decide and I believe he is the No1."
Looking ahead to the build-up to the FIFA World Cup, Le Guen confirmed that Cameroon would be playing a friendly against Italy on 3 March. He then added: "My duty is to make the best possible selections for this team. It is something I am committed to do. My goal now is to improve things in a positive way."