The Indomitable Lions were late. But their fans were ready to wait. Hundreds of Cameroonians dancing and singing praises to their national football squad witnessed the arrival of the team ahead of their clash with the Teranga Lions of Senegal at the Dakar Leopold Sedar Senghor stadium on Saturday.
The Senegalese press announced that the Lions would touch down at 6pm local time; but the Cameroon team arrived around 9pm.
Photographers and television crews battled with security men who claimed they were protecting the players. It ended in complete confusion as Cameroon’s captain and star Samuel Eto’o appeared. Some journalists forgot they were reporters and screamed the stars name, others attempted to touch him, the security men shoved, pushed and kicked.
The players barely squeezing themselves out of the arrival lounge to board the coach that was on stand-by. The security men struggled to keep the fans in check. These Cameroonians who were mainly dancers a few hours before, skipped over metal barriers as if they were steeple-chase runners.
“Give us victory, please give us victory,” one man cried to striker Achille Webo who was comfortably sitted in the air conditioned bus. Whether Webo heard his pleas, I can’t tell but the Majorca player waved.
The man then went to the other side of the bus where Tottenham Hotspur leftback Assou-Ekotto was sitting with headphones on.
“Assouuuuu, la victoire, seulement la victoire Assou, s’il te plait,” he cried.
Then Eto’o, who had sneaked in, walked to the rear of the bus and waved to the folks who were struggling to catch a glimpse. A big roar followed cries of “Eto’oooooooooo”.
After about half an hour, the coach set-off for the team Hotel. Until that moment very few knew it was going to be the luxurious Radisson Blu situated on the Corniche West, with a picturesque view of the Atlantic Ocean.
Word spread among the fans – in any case. But by the time they could rush to there the Hotel gates were barred and the Lions jumped out. It was already past 10pm that night of 24 March 2011.
“The boys have to rest now, we’ll be available to talk to you at midday tomorrow (Friday),” Linus Pascal Fouda, the Team Press Officer told a pack of journalists who had managed to find their way through the heavy security at Radisson Blu.
Friday’s highlights include a press conference and a training session at the Leopold Sedar Senghor stadium at 6pm.
Lest I forget… The coach, Javier Clemente was also around. At least, I recognised the Spaniard. If one considers the way those fans were calling out for Francois Omam Biyick and Jacques Songo’o – one could be mistaken that they were the coaches