2019 Women’s World Cup: Ajara optimistic ‘Cameroon can do better in France’


Cameroon forward Nchout Njoya Ajara

Cameroon forward Nchout Njoya Ajara insists the Indomitable Lionesses will show significant progress on the global stage when they compete in their second Women’s World Cup in June in France.

Cameroon made it to the last-16 in their first World Cup in 2015 where they lost 1-0 to China in Canada.

The Indomitable Lionesses will play in Group E at France 2019, alongside Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands and Ajara says the Central Africans will be seeking a quarter-final spot.

“As a team we want to go as far possible. There’s a feeling that Cameroon can do better in France,” Ajara told BBC Sport.

“Four years ago we took the world by surprise and now many people will want to see us improve on that performance.

“We have to be cautious. I see a lot of people saying that these aren’t very difficult teams and I’m surprised. We have to respect our opponents.

“Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands have produced some good players in the past and must be taken seriously. Still I believe if we continue training hard we’ll be a tough side to play,” Ajara added.

Ajara resumed action with Cameroon in April at a tournament in China, four months after she spurred the Indomitable Lionesses to a third place finish at the 2018 Africa Cup of Nations which sealed their qualification for this year’s World Cup.

The Njisse native thinks Cameroon should have more friendly internationals arranged for them, especially in the build-up to France 2019 which kicks off on 7 June.

“We have a new coach (Alain Djeumfa) who’s taken over. It’s true he’s been around the team before but not as the lead trainer.

“We need to understand his philosophy, how he wants us to play – and for this to happen we need to play more friendlies before heading to France” the 26-year-old said.

“There are some new players who have joined us. For us to blend as a team we need to play more together. But I’m glad with what I saw in China. There’s a great zeal within the team to succeed.”

Cameroon’s Indomitable Lionesses reached the last 16 of the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada.

Ajara has become a fans favourite in Norway after scoring 18 goals in 22 games for her previous club Sandviken which included 15 league goals in 19 games.

She moved to another Norwegian club in December 2018, joining Valerenga on a two-year deal and scored on her debut. Ajara wants to translate her club performance to the world stage in France.

“I’m having a great time now in my career. I started the season well and last year was amazing. I play with lots of confidence and determination now. It feels good.

“I know the fans are expecting a lot from me and I’m going to do my best. I want to give my all because I believe we will have a good tournament.

“As always it’s a surreal feeling playing for the national team and I just want to make the fans proud,” Ajara said.

“We have a good squad. Most of the players in this team played the World Cup in 2015. We have the experience and if we prepare well then we can get some good results this summer.”

Cameroon, who are expected to wrap up their preparation in May with a friendly against Spain, will kick off their World Cup campaign against Canada on 10 June in Montpellier.

They will then face the Netherlands on 15 June and will conclude the group phase with a clash against New Zealand on 20 June.


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