It's been a remarkable rise for Seattle Sounders FC defender Nouhou since his arrival to the club as a little-known prospect in 2016.

The 24-year-old has become a fan favorite and cult hero in MLS circles in the years since, combining his lockdown defending ability with an energetic playing style that has endeared him to those in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Having broken in as a regular with the Cameroon national team, Nouhou will now get to show his skills on the biggest stage with his country's successful World Cup qualifying cycle.


Cameroon learned Friday they're drawn into a tough Group G, which also features Switzerland, Serbia and No. 1-ranked Brazil, meaning Nouhou might well have a chance to match up with more global superstars. At the Africa Cup of Nations semifinals earlier this year, Nouhou kept Egypt and Liverpool superstar Mo Salah under wraps, helping Cameroon gut out a 0-0 draw before falling in penalty kicks.

Brazil, of course, feature one of the top forwards of his generation in Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar, while Switzerland have former Bayern Munich and Liverpool star and current Chicago Fire FC Designated Player Xherdan Shaqiri,

"I think it's always special to play against a big player, I remember when we played against Egypt," Nouhou said on Friday. "Before the game I was nervous because it was my first time playing against that kind of big player. Everybody knows that Mo Salah is one of the best players in the world because of what he does in the Premier League, so I was a little bit nervous. Now we're going to play against Brazil, a big team. And then it's Shaqiri, against a big team.

"We just need to prepare, that's all. It's the same, we're just going to have to be ready and we know that Brazil, they have too many good players. It's not [just] about Neymar. We just need to be ready to figure out how to shut them down also."

Cameroon qualified for Qatar 2022 in dramatic fashion, winning their two-legged series against Algeria with an extra-time game-winner scored by Karl Toko Ekambi in the 124th minute. The shock winner came just six minutes after Cameroon had conceded an equalizer that would have knocked them out, but instead forced a 2-2 aggregate in the Third Round series as they advanced via the away goals rule.

Now that the Indomitable Lions are in, Nouhou is relishing their first World Cup appearance since 2014.

"I think I'm for ready for that," he said. "Hopefully it's going to be a good experience for us because we have a really young team, so it's good for Cameroon, it's good for the league, good for the club, good for my family. I'm just happy about that."

Seattle have another member of their backline likely headed to Qatar in Ecuadorian center back Xavier Arreaga. Ecuador are in Group A along with Qatar, Senegal and the Netherlands, meaning Arreaga could encounter some star-studded matchups via Sadio Mane (Senegal) and Memphis Depay (Netherlands).

"It's a big responsibility for everybody in the team," Arreaga said. "I think we have to prepare so well in these couple months until the World Cup arrives. We are talking about this big challenge we're going to get in the World Cup, I think that's going to be a very good opponent for us to try to arrive very good and try and put a good performance."

The Sounders could also have two players representing the United States, with midfielder Cristian Roldan and Jordan Morris consistent call-ins during the Concacaf Octagonal. They're in Group B alongside England, Iran and a European foe that's to be determined (Wales, Scotland or Ukraine).