Rigobert Song forced to defend Cameroon selection after abject CHAN showing

Francis Ebembe Elimbi of Cameroon Francis Ebembe Elimbi of Cameroon

Rigobert Song has refused to countenance the idea that poor squad selection was behind Cameroon's early African Nations Championship exit.

The Indomitable Lions - Africa's reigning champions - were dumped out in the first round of the ongoing tournament for home-based players in Morocco after taking just one point from their group-stage fixtures.

Cameroon were already out of the running after losing their opening matches against Angola and Congo-Brazzaville, rendering Wednesday's 1-1 draw against Burkina Faso irrelevant, yet Song has refused to accept the suggestion that poor squad selection was behind the Lions' failure in Morocco.

"We brought the best players in the local league, no one can say the contrary," Song told KweséESPN.

"I think that we came to a top-level competition, which is better than [the Cameroonian Elite One]," he added. "It means that we just have to get back to work."

Despite his conviction, Song intriguingly only picked three players from reigning Cameroonian champions Eding Sport, with the likes of Armel Ngondji, Aurelien Etame Ngombe and Zambe Martial snubbed.

Similarly, last season's hotshot and four-time Cameroonian champion Brice Owona - signed by Eding Sport from Apejes de Mfou ahead of their CAF Champions League campaign - was also overlooked

23-year-old frontman Franklin Tchebemou Nguea netted nine goals for Feutcheu FC last term, and could have been another solution for a Lions team that were among the last of the 16 CHAN contenders to find the net in Morocco.

"Was it a bad choice? No," a defensive Song told journalists. "You know the championship better than me. I had time before picking the team to make my choices, even before the playoff against Sao Tome, the league had already ended.

"You know the players here better than me, they were named the best players in the league," he continued. "There isn't a player out there who hasn't been named.

"That means that [in my squad], there is talent, there is potential. I have trust in them."

Despite the inclusion of David Eto'o, the younger brother of Samuel, the attacking midfielder played a peripheral role in Cameroon's campaign, while Minnesota United-bound wideman Frantz Pangop cut a frustrated figure.

Notably, the league's joint-top scorer Francis Elimbi, was only handed two substitute appearances -- 11 minutes against Angola, and half an hour against Burkina Faso -- while those players chosen by Song toiled in his place.

Song proceeded to claim that any failing on the part of the Lions at the African Nations Championship was a consequence of the overall quality of the Elite One, rather than his selection policy.

"We can't just say these players aren't the top level and that there's always better," he continued, "we need to work.

"We have to realise that we must work to improve. Is our championship the best?" the ex-Cameroon defender concluded. "When you look at the first goal we conceded [against Burkina Faso] we were static, everyone was anonymous.

"I didn't make a bad choice. The group weren't good enough and the collective must take the blame."