Javier Clemente will be the head coach of Cameroon’s national football team for the next two years, various sports websites claimed on Thursday.
Cameroon has been without a manager since Paul Le Guen resigned in June after a disappointing display at the World Cup where the African side lost all three group games.
An array of technicians including German-born Klaus Toppmoller, South Africa’s Gordon Igesund and Serb Ljupko Petrovic have since been linked to the job.
Traditionally, Cameroon name their coaches by an official decision by the Minister of Sport.
If authorities confirm this appointment, the 61 year old Spaniard will have the task of completing the renovation of the Cameroon squad initiated by his predecessor and qualifying the country to the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012.
Clemente is a former manager of the Spanish national team (1992-1998) who led the team in a memorable run of 36 games without defeat. He led the Spanish team to the World Cup in 1994 in the U.S.A and 1998 in France as well as the European Championships in 1996.
He didn’t win trophies with the national side but he had won the Spanish league with Athletic Bilbao in 1983 and 1984. He led Espanyol Barcelona to the final of the UEFA Cup in 1988. Cameroon’s legendary goalkeeper and former interim manager, Thomas Nkono, was part of that Espanyol team.
Clemente has coached out of his country, first as a manager of French club Olympic de Marseille and much later as the head coach of the Serbian national team from July 2006 to December 2007.
ANOTHER EXPATRIATE ?
Debate has been rife in Cameroon on whether to appoint a national or an expatriate at the helm of the team. The local media have urged the authorities to hand the job to a former national team great – suggesting the likes of Omam Biyick Patrick Mboma, Eugene Ekeke, Kunde Emmanuel and Joseph Antione Bell.
Commentators on internet forums seemed to favour a local coach after former Cameroon goalkeeper and skipper, Jacques Songo’o managed the Indomitable Lions to a 3-0 victory in an international friendly played on 11 August. Songo’o was goalkeeping trainer under Le Guen.
During a recent visit to Brazil, President Paul Biya of Cameroon told senators in the South American country that he would like a Brazilian to train Cameroon at some point. This led to speculation that the appointment of a new coach had been delayed in order to match the head of state’s wishes.
A Cameroon football federation official said on Monday that the appointment of a coach will be accompanied by a set of new decisions creating a new organisation of the various national teams including new positions which needed clearance by the government which heavily funds the team.
It is understood that there will be a post of team director, along the lines of the role played by Oliver Bierhoff in Germany.
ETO’O, CLEMENTE MEET AGAIN?
If he effectively becomes the Lions’ manager, it would be interesting to see his relationship with the team captain Samuel Eto’o after both men had a spat in 2006. Eto’o was caught on camera spitting in the direction of Exposito (an Athletico Bilbao player) and Clemente (then manager of Bilbao) reportedly referred to the act as: “something that people who had just come down out of the trees did.”
He denied that he had racially abused Eto’o as the media were reporting while the Cameroonian insisted that he did not intend to spit at Exposito and also said Clemente had contacted him to explain the circumstances in which his comments were made.
“I’ve had the chance to speak to Clemente and he has said some very nice things to me,” he told a Spanish television programme, according to a BBC report.
This will be Cameroon’s 14th change of manager in a decade and the first Spaniard to hold the position.