It has now been 24 years since Cameroon became the darling of the football world. They shocked the holders Argentina 1-0 in Milan to open the legendary 1990 World Cup in Italy, and went onto reach the quarter-finals. It took two dubious penalties from Gary Lineker to eliminate the African side and The Indomitable Lions were launched into World Cup folklore.
They have played in five of the six tournaments since Italia '90, but not once have they managed to escape the group stages. Now they travel to Brazil with an exciting and vibrant squad, and two of its star players have attracted interest from Premier League side Liverpool. If Volker Fink's side are to have any chance of qualifying from Group A, they will be banking on defensive duo Nicolas N'Koulou and Henri Bedimo.
The defenders enjoyed heated competition this season, facing off twice in the "Olympico" as Olympique de Marseille battled it out with Olympique Lyonnais for fifth and sixth place in Ligue 1. N'Koulou will have the bragging rights during the tournament; the early season 2-2 draw was followed up with a 4-2 win for Marseille at the Stade Velodrome. However, individually it was Bedimo that enjoyed the more productive season.
After joining Lyon in the summer of 2013 from Montpellier, the left-back settled in very quickly and instantly became one of Remi Garde's most consistent and effective players. In OL's 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield, he was given the license to get forward and do what he does best - attack.
Bedimo finished the season with 10 assists in Ligue 1, the joint third-best record in the league and only one behind the mercurial Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He does have an eye for goal, although he only managed to find the back of the net once.
His tendency to attack doesn't mean he neglects his defensive duties. His stamina and work-rate helps him track back and keep his discipline extremely well, and that was one of the attributes that brought him to wider acclaim while at Montpellier.
When Rene Girard embarked on the 2011/12 season, only a crazy person would have put money on Montpellier winning the Ligue 1 title. They had finished 14th the previous season and Paris Saint-Germain were throwing money at players like confetti.
The team from southern France spent less than £2 million on Bedimo from RC Lens, and teamed him up with Marseille's Hilton on a free transfer. Not only did they play some of the best expansive, attacking, free-flowing football in Europe, but they had a defensive record to be proud of. They pipped PSG to the title, the first in the club's history.
Despite the impressive performances of Jon Flanagan at left-back this season, if Liverpool wants to compete both domestically and in European competition, they need players with experience to come into the back-line. Although he is 30 years old, Bedimo has played in both the Champions League and Europa League and is a seasoned campaigner in France.
His style would be very suited to Brendan Rodgers team and his ability to get forward and join the attack, while also protecting the defence, would make him the perfect low-risk, low-price signing.
The player next to him at Cameroon is Marseille's sometimes exceptional centre-back, Nicolas N'Koulou. You have to use the word sometimes because he is coming off the back of an inconsistent season, but this could play perfectly into Liverpool's hands.
During the 2012/13 season when Marseille finished second behind PSG, N'Koulou was magnificent. His defensive displays along with the form of French goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, were a major part of Marseille's wonderful defensive record - at one point they recorded seven clean sheets in a row - and two of the outstanding performers in the league.
This season it hasn't quite happened for N'Koulou or Marseille. Coach Elie Baup was sacked midway through the season, luck went against them at times, and they even played the last few months of the campaign without a first-team coach.
Everyone was surprised that OM never cashed in on their talented centre-back last summer, and it would be even more of a shock if he wasn't to leave this term.
There are similarities to the situation that Southampton's Dejan Lovren found himself in last summer. His performances for Lyon had been less than exemplary, but all the signs of a good player were there to see, all he needed was a move and a fresh start. Now Lovren has been linked with England's best clubs, including Liverpool, but a move for N'Koulou would be cheaper and possibly hold better value.
Still only 24, two or three successful seasons with Liverpool could see the Cameroonian defender finally fulfil his potential and become one of Europe's best defenders. When he is on his game he is a great man-marker, strong and dominant in the air and reads the game exceptionally well.
At times for Marseille he has lost concentration and forwards can sometimes ghost in behind him, but that has mostly happened this season in what was a poor and uninspired Marseille team. Alongside the likes of Martin Skrtel or Mamadou Sakho, Liverpool could produce one of the most fearsome partnerships in the Premier League.
Liverpool have money to spend this summer, and the squad is desperately in need of reinforcements. Rodgers could easily spend £15 million on a player like Lovren, or he could use that money to sign this exciting defensive duo that are set to star at this summer's World Cup in Brazil.
By Andrew Gibney for Ball Street
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