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Ross County 3 Dundee United 0: Songo'o hopes Highland sojourn will be next step en route to World Cup

Ross County have awoken to the idea of a more successful season.

Filip Kiss salutes the Ross County supporters after scoring his second goal in Saturday's victory. Picture: SNS
Filip Kiss salutes the Ross County supporters after scoring his second goal in Saturday's victory. Picture: SNS

The Highland side would perhaps have been tempted to keep their eyes shut following an unfulfilling start to the campaign, but the view has grown much brighter this month with the opening of the transfer window. Grim mutterings about being left in the SPFL Premiership's relegation play-off place have now been replaced with talk of a player making his way to this summer's World Cup.

Enter Yann Songo'o, the Dingwall club's sixth signing this month. The arrival of the Blackburn Rovers defender was confirmed only on the morning of Saturday's meeting with Dundee United, having completed his loan move from the Sky Bet Championship club on Friday evening. The Cameroonian's subsequent place among the County starting XI had supporters - and the press - surfing frantically for information before kick-off. It would make for intriguing reading.

Reared in Deportivo La Coruna's youth system, Songo'o spent further time in Spain with Real Zaragoza and with Metz in France before a brief stint in the United States of America led the 22-year-old to Blackburn last summer. With his time at Ewood Park so far failing to reap regular first-team action, the strapping centre-half has adjusted his sights to bring Scotland's top flight into view in an effort to revive his international prospects.

Talk of Brazil might have been served up with a generous pinch of salt were it not for Songo'o's pedigree. As well as starring for the France under-16s earlier in his career, the Yaounde-born defender has earned a clutch of under-20s caps with Cameroon already.

He also happens to be the son of Jacques Songo'o - celebrated in Cameroon following an appearance in the 1998 World Cup for the African nation - and the brother of three-times capped winger, Franck.

Songo'o's heritage was tested immediately by Derek Adams, the County manager fielding all six of his January signings in an emphatic victory over United. Afterwards, the Cameroonian spoke optimistically about gaining a more exacting examination in Brazil this summer.

"Jacques Songo'o is my father and he is such an inspirational figure for me," said the 22-year-old. "He is a legend in Cameroon. He played in World Cup 1998 and was in the squad for three other World Cups. He also played in the Champions League and won La Liga with Deportivo La Coruna. He had an unbelievable career and is now the goalkeeping coach with the national team.

"The World Cup was a dream he realised and I would like to do the same. My main aim is now to try and play in the World Cup this summer. The manager has already spoken to me and told me I have a chance if I get games and play well. I feel I can achieve my goal with Ross County."

Songo'o slotted seamlessly into County's rejuvenated side. Two goals from Filip Kiss - on loan from Cardiff City - and another from Yoann Arquin punctuated the scoreline, while Jordan Slew, who is also on loan from Blackburn, also featured prominently. Quite literally, County are now a different side to the one which had toiled through autumn and early winter.

The performance would leave Songo'o suitably impressed. "I only arrived on Thursday, but I'm enjoying it already," he said. "After not playing at Blackburn for three months, I have come here to help the team. I was surprised how impressive Ross County were. It was an unbelievable performance.

"If we keep playing like this then we will keep going up the league table. The manager liked me at Blackburn but I'm still only 22 and this is my first time in England. Blackburn are keen for me to get experience and Ross County have given me that opportunity. The manager told me to come here and then come back next season much stronger."

He has brought added muscle to a County side which seemed frail early in the campaign. Victory has taken the Highlands side up one place in the table, to 10th, and above Partick Thistle. It offered rich evidence that their ascent has only just begun.

A run of 10 games without victory has since been replaced by three wins and a draw since the new year, while United's six straight victories before Christmas have come to seem like a distant memory.

Jackie McNamara, the United manager, had sent bright youngsters Ryan Gauld and John Souttar off to Spain for a recuperative sunshine break, but there was a jaded look to some of their older team-mates after a sixth match without a win.

Such faltering form looks out of place compared to the side's previous dominance - United last met County in December having scored 21 goals in their previous five matches - and Keith Watson, the United defender, could offer no clear answer as to why his team's verve has evaporated.

"It was hard to take," he said. "We started the game quite brightly but didn't take a couple of wee sniffs at goal we had. After they scored, our heads went down and it just wasn't good enough from us. After a great run, that's six without a win and I think it's starting to get to a few of the boys.

"In the way we played it showed a little. We were getting frustrated when it was still 1-0 and we just didn't play in the way we know we can. I don't know what has changed. It's as if we've lost a bit of confidence and we need to get it back quickly. We need to put this game behind us and not think about it again."

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