Cameroon’s national football team captain and star player, Samuel Eto’o, says he has had to re-think if he must participate in the World Cup after former Indomitable Lions striker, Roger Milla ,said Eto’o had yet to prove his worth for his country and lacks discipline.
Roger Milla, who scored 4 goals in Cameroon’s run to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 1990, said in an interview on Thursday that Eto’o had given much to his clubs Barcelona and Inter Milan but had never achieved anything with Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions.
” What did he (Milla) achieve? ” Eto’o is quoted by the French news agency as saying in an interview on French TV channel Canal+Sport on Friday. “Finally you wonder whether these are really my countrymen. Are these really my people? Is it worth it to go to the World Cup?”, Eto’o added in a series of rhetorical questions.
It is not the first time that Milla is harsh towards Eto’o in particular and the new generation of players in general before a crucial competition. Weeks before Cameroon’s decisive qualifying game against Morocco, Milla had accused Eto’o of being a nuisance in the national squad.
“He did not win the World Cup, they played quarter-finals and what a team it was! They had one the best teams with great players in each compartment. The fact that they (Milla) enjoyed glory at the age 40 does not gives them right to talk (like that),” Eto’o said.
Many fans expressed fear that Milla’s comments could dent Cameroon’s preparation for the World Cup and Eto’o’s threats have proved that this might be the case in a context where the team’s stability and cohesion is uncertain.
The Inter Milan player had been given 8 days of holiday by the coach, Paul Le Guen, after a long season which saw him win a second treble – national league, national cup and European Champions League trophy – with Inter Milan.
The Indomitable Lions are supposed to play against Slovakia in a warm up match on Saturday (29 May) in Klagenfurt, Austria after which the coach plans to name the 23-man squad to travel to South Africa for the World Cup.
Confusion from Milla’s statements which another Cameroonian football legend, Joseph Antoine Bell, described as “inelegant” only add to a series of set-backs to the team’s preparations.
In fact, the team played a slack and scoreless friendly training match against Georgia on Tuesday and the coach is still unsure about the eligibility of two players, Maxim Choupo-Moting and Gaetan Bong, that he hopes to the take to the soccer tournament in June.
The players had represented Germany and France respectively at youth team level and need a FIFA waiver to compete for the homeland of the fathers. Media reports have suggested that Cameroon’s football federation (FECAFOOT) was late to start the administrative procedure to obtain the waiver.
Choupo Moting’s father (who is also a football agent) clearly explains (in French) in this audio clip how the federation officials fumbled with the procedure and reveals that the football’s world body will decide on the matter next week and expects the outcome to be favourable for Cameroon.
The FECAFOOT boss, Iya Mohamed, who promised that there would be a decision on the matter this Friday, would need to improve his association’s skills in negotiating complex issues. They have a test of their diplomatic skills in the form of convincing Eto’o to down his boycott threats, get back to the fold and focus on success for Cameroon on African soil.