Cameroonians were thoroughly disappointed by the game against Morocco
last Sunday. For many, it was a given opportunity to correct the
“error” of March 28 in Accra, when the Lions suffered an unexpected
defeat by Togo, 1-0.
The build-up to the next match in Yaounde against Morocco was
understandably laden with commitments to overturn the apple-cart of
failed hopes to see the national team correct its errors, in such a way
as to maintain its status of Africa’s Number One soccer team, courtesy
of FIFA, the world’s football watchdog and governing body.
In Cameroon, football is almost a national religion. It
virtually has the status of a one-party configuration where all are
agreed on an objective: conquering all of Africa’s available soccer
The public wants to see success. They wanted Otto Pfister out.
He has since quit the scene. They wanted Cameroonians to take charge.
Thomas Nkono of unchallenged fame and a cohort of well-known assistants
have since taken the mantle. The first result, disappointing as it is,
must be taken in a sports manly context, first of all because Morocco
did not come to Yaounde to help Cameroon glean more points; it came to
improve its standing as a potential group leader and consequently,
secure a place for the World Cup final round in South Africa in 2010.
Above all, it is sport, and not war where people have to brandish
But even in sport, there is some hierarchy that teams would
want to preserve. And if Cameroonians are so itchy about seeing even
just one victory after two outings of the Lions, it is also because the
team occupies the first position on the Africa bench of FIFA’s
rankings, therefore commanding some prestige and honor to defend.
With this status, can one consider an African Cup of nations
without Cameroon, Africa’s premier team? Certainly not! And the rest of
the world is there, wondering how the country, whose sporting diplomacy
gave five places to Africa in the final rounds of the World Cup, will
possibly not be in “Africa’s” World Cup.
The Indomitable Lions might have shown their limits on the
playing turf. But it is the responsibility of thousands of lovers of
the game, the political class and ordinary citizens to make one last
clarion call to the team to awaken the “Lion spirit” in them. The “Lion
Spirit” simply means appropriating the concerns of ordinary citizens to
give what it takes – and that could mean one last-minute salutary leap
– to enable the Cameroon team qualify, because even its adversaries of
today concede a “natural” birthright of participation to the
The Roger Federer victory at the just-ended Roland Garros
tennis tournament in Paris could be an inspiration. Virtually written
off, Federer jumped out of the placards of sporting archives to win the
tournament in which such favourities as Rafael Nadel were eliminated as
early as in the quarter-finals. Sports is about spectacular about-turns
and the Lions have the capacity to make its millions of supporters
dream… dreaming as many Cameroonians and Africans do in imagining
Cameroon sitting in the frontlines of world football come SA. 2010.