Cotonsport sweeper, Che Malone Fondoh - has come a long way and doesn't look like stopping anytime soon with some jaw-dropping performances at the heart of the defense, both for country and club .
The erstwhile National Polytechnic defender who came through the ranks of University of Buea FC and Continental FA, has been a joy to watch, and many argue that he has a say in the future, for the senior national team, the Indomitable Lions.
The 23-year-old who played the semis of the Cameroon Cup back in 2021 with Union Sportif of Douala, was left out of a queue of games early in 2022, by then Coton Sport coach, Aboubakar Souleymanou.
The big leap
After the latter was suspended from his role and new gaffer, Gabriel Haman took over, it has been all joy and glory, for Coton Sport's new fan favorite.
Che Malone played an integral part in the team's road to its 17th Elite One title in Garoua, playing every single minute of the playoffs, including an assist against Les Astres. He has played every minute in every game for Coton Sport since the second phase of the Elite 1 championship last season, making him the most used player of the club this far.
Then, the Cameroon cup triumph and induction in the CAF champions league group phase for the first time in 5 years followed. In his first season in Garoua, Che has picked up two major trophies and has set his eyes on a number of international challenges ahead.
It has not just been at club level that the Bamenda native has thrived. He, alongside teammate - Frank Baho, helped Cameroon pass Equatorial Guinea to pick a ticket for the CHAN 2023 in Algeria. Che has become the dependable center back for the Intermediate Lions as he played every minute in the qualification round, shouldering the task of the team's deputy captain.
Talking to Sports News Africa, the man at the peak of his powers is overwhelmed with the love from the supporters and country folks.
'Honestly, I feel privileged and honored to be loved by most football fans around the national territory. It’s not easy for people to suddenly develop love for you even without knowing you personally so I feel so special and must say thanks to them for always being there for me.' Che stated.
Going further, the defender tips his club-side to do well on all fronts.
'I think my club can go the extra mile in the CAF Champions League. With the few matches we have played so far I believe we can do better than last year and we still have the World Cup period to work more and be up to the level of other clubs in the competition.
'As at now, I believe we can replicate last season's double. We can’t win by talking, we win by playing and I believe we have the capacity and quality of players to win the double again,' Che reiterated.
It wasn't a smooth journey to the top. In fact, at the start of last season, Malone was left in the city of Garoua, while the club went about its activities. Coach Aboubakar Souleymanou did not fancy him at all. Recounting the incident, the man show-named 'Wall of Jericho' says he remained strong, and did not give up.
'First of all there were players who believed in me when I first got there and guided me towards my adaptation.
'I am psychologically strong. I always make sure I remain strong no matter the conditions I find myself in because that’s the only way we can succeed 'out of home.' Opined Che, before he added; ' I transformed my challenges into confidence and worked harder to get to where I am today while being disciplined and humble. I
listened to advices given to me by those I met in the team like; Anye Derrick, Etta Bawak, Ngomo Herve, Kamilou Daouda and Tombi Alemi, who all impacted me with more knowledge.
The most in-form defender in Cameroon, equally has as an objective to win in national colors.
'with the national selections, I also wish to win trophies with my national teams, be it the senior men's national team, or the intermediate Lions. It's an aspiration for every footballer to win trophies for clubs and country'.
FIFA World Cup chances
Che Malone remains a player to watch and with the trend, it is going to be hyper difficult for Cotonsport to keep their man.
As things stand with less than a month to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the tradition for Cameroon to select a home based player for the competition is looking more like than ever. In 2014, Coton Sport's keeper Loic Feudjeu was among the 23 who made the final list by Volke Finke to represent the Lions in Brazil. This time around fate could have it that another player from Cameroon's best Elite club makes the list to the World Cup especially as new rules of the competition allows for 26 instead of the usual 23 list.
Che Malone is also eyeing regular football at the continent's top echelon, the CAF Champions League this season.
He will definitely represent Cameroon in Algeria 2023 for the CHAN competition.