Defender Ambroise Oyongo believes the team spirit in Cameroon’s squad is stronger without the eight players who turned down the chance to play at the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Indomitable Lions are aiming for a fifth title when they play seven-time winners Egypt on Sunday in Libreville.
Ambroise Oyongo says the squad is united without the absentees from Gabon.
“If the guys were here, we wouldn’t be how we are now,” the Montreal Impact player told BBC Sport.
“We have made an effort in every game. If they were here, I don’t think they would put in the same effort so it’s good for us to forget the other players so we focus on the team that is here.”
Liverpool defender Joel Matip was among the players to stay away and Ambroise Oyongo believes their absence will come into sharper focus when World Cup qualifying resumes later this year.
“For the next competition and the next international game, the coach will have to take the decision about them,” added the 25-year-old.
Cameroon coach Hugo Broos has previously said the missing players will have to prove themselves if they want to be recalled in the future.
Former Cameroon international Patrick Mboma, meanwhile, is impressed with the way the 2017 squad has coped without the absentees, who he thinks should now be kept out of the side.
“I’m very proud because they have brought a good atmosphere and a good energy,” he told BBC Sport.
“That means that players are happy to be here playing for one another. They have no tension on or off the pitch and are just fighting for the flag – that is very, very important.”
“Some players, who are healthy, want to think about themselves. That can be understood but I think that choice should be their choice forever.”
“I don’t know if (their absence) has had a positive impact, but we have to focus on the 23 who accepted to play.”
The Cameroon coach, former Belgian international Hugo Broos, is impressed with the team spirit in his squad and thinks those missing are now having second thoughts.
“There were some players who didn’t come – I think maybe now they regret that they are not here with us.
They still have a future, but the decision is now with them.
“I will not phone them and ask them if they will come.
They have to phone me to say “I’m ready to play for Cameroon”. And not only one game. Because when they come, they stay. It’s not today I come and the next they go. So it’s all they come or they are definitely not coming.
“I have been a coach for 29 years and I have never had a group of players like this.
“It is a group of 23 friends and I never saw this in a football team – there are normally arguments.
“Here they are 23 friends who like to play football and do everything to win the game. So for me it’s very easy as a coach.”
Source :BBC Sports