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International Roundup: Defending worldwide

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Nouhou and Yeimar both put on solid displays with their national teams.

Cameroun versus Cap Verde- Africa Cup of Nations Photo by Ulrik Pedersen/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Seattle Sounders started preseason last week, but they did so without a handful of important players. For those with access to BeIN Sports or Fanatiz — or a discerning taste in live streams of questionable origin and legality — there were opportunities to see a couple of those players away with their national teams.

On Sunday, Yeimar earned his first cap with the Colombian national team with a start in a friendly against Honduras. He played 79 minutes as Colombia won 2-1, and made a strong impression ahead of the next round of World Cup Qualifiers. Yeimar put in a solid but not exceptional defensive shift as he and the rest of the backline worked to shut down the Honduras attack. His three interceptions and two recoveries were decent, but where he truly showed his value was in possession. Yeimar had 57 successful passes with a 92% passing accuracy, including going 4-for-8 on long passes. Colombia’s next game is their World Cup Qualifier against Peru on Jan. 28, which means we should know before too long how much longer the Sounders might be without Yeimar should he get called up again.

Cameroon has continued their run through the group stage of the Africa Cup of Nations and have qualified for the group of 16. Nouhou has maintained his starting spot at left back through the hosts’ first three games of the tournament and, while he hasn’t quite reached the exhilarating heights of the opening game of the tournament, he’s continued to be a defensive force that opponents have to reckon with. The two performances over the past week — a 4-1 win against Ethiopia and a 1-1 draw against Cape Verde to end the group stage — demonstrated that the terms “stay-at-home” and “defensive-minded” aren’t necessarily synonymous for a fullback. In both games Nouhou marauded up and down Cameroon’s left side, pitching in while in possession, but primarily serving as the place where opposing attacks went to die.

Nouhou has now started all three of Cameroon’s games at the AFCON, only subbing off against Ethiopia after 79 minutes, and according to FotMob his lowest performance rating has been a 7.0. In the last two games, his passing has been especially consistent, if not particularly dangerous, demonstrating his quality when keeping possession rather than trying to pick out a killer ball. Nouhou has also repeatedly showcased his elite ability to take up good positioning and shepherd the ball out of bounds, completely neutralizing attacks. At this point, he’s a lock to keep starting for as long as Cameroon are still in the tournament. Nouhou and Cameroon are back in action on Monday, against a still to-be-determined third-place team.