31/08/2010 12:47:59
African Debate: The Rebirth Of The Indomitable Lions
They say when times are tough, the tough get going. This is visible with Cameroon, who keep pushing ahead with their football even after collective debacles from recent tournaments.
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The soccer-loving central African nation is determined to put order in their football house and recover the brilliance of the years past.

The four-time African champions saw their best moments in the 2000 and 2002 Africa Cup of Nations, winning both consecutive titles, but gradually grounded to lower positions in consequent editions. Coaches were changed, players were ejected, yet the Lions' roar kept frightening fewer adversaries.

But the woeful aftermath of the Lions' campaign at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa ? where they became the first team to wear away from the tournament ? shook a whole nation. The FA (Fecafoot), Sports Ministry, Fans, NGOs, etc; engaged themselves in weeks of diatribe, trying to accuse, trying to excuse, trying to deduce. Football, source of hope and joy for millions, had its course severely dwindled in glaring confusion, until sanity was restored.

The World Cup Coach Paul Le Guen was fired. Top members of the South Africa 2010 delegation were summoned by the Sports Ministry to reimburse their surplus bonuses. Team captain Samuel Eto'o and former country star Roger Milla, who had been reviling each other in the media ? for reasons best known to themselves ? downed their blows to think of a way forward.

After a long search for a veritable coach, fit for the situation, the choice stood on Spanish-born former Marseille and Real Betis manager Javier Clemente. In face of a desperate delegation, in quest of rapid solutions for its nation's crumbling football, the 60-year-old was able to impose his will of signing a two-year contract (when the Fecafoot wanted four years) and to share his stay between Cameroon and Europe (when the Fecafoot wanted a permanent stay in Yaoundé).

The second step towards repairing the situation was to name two indigenous former football stars - François Omam Biyick and Jacques Songo'o to assist the Spaniard in his difficult task of reviving the comatose Lions. Just after that, highly-inspired Sports Minister Michel Zoah named former national team striker and 1980 African Footballer of the Year Jean Manga-Onguene as National Technical Director ? a post many Cameroonians still can't understand, but sports officials say it will be responsible for the development, implementation and adaptation of technical policies in order to optimise the performance and competitiveness of Cameroonian football from the grassroots level to the elite.

Internationale's Samuel Eto'o's position as team captain remains untouched ? as you would imagine ? however, he now has two assistants, Ajax midfielder Enoh Eying as first vice-captain while AS Monaco defender Nicolas Nkoulou, a second vice.

A number of adjustments and innovations to see the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon rule again have been done, we now await to test these reforms first, across the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers kicking off early September, where the Lions will be confronting dreadful adversaries in their Group E like Senegal and DR Congo ? both of whom are reforming their structures as well. But Mauritius, the fourth member of the group, will be Cameroon's first rival in Bellevue on 4 September.

Although deemed minnows, Mauritius can create great problems for the new coach and FA officials. If the Islanders could withstand the Lions, holding their own, then the two other stronger members of the group would do worst, throwing doubts in all what has been done to overhaul the football system in Cameroon

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