Tag Archive: iya mohammed


**This article has been amended (in paragraphs 16 & 17)  to include a AFC as the footballers’ association suspended by Fecafoot.

Cameroon’s football federation (Fecafoot) has revised disciplinary sanctions it handed to the country’s national team captain, Samuel Eto’o  and two other players, the body said in a statement issued after an executive committee meeting that also appointed former Indomitable Lions skipper, Rigobert Song, as team manager.

Eto’o saw a 15-match ban, for inciting his teammates to boycott an international friendly against Algeria last November, revised to an eight-month suspension. He would miss Cameroon’s matches until August. The original decision would have seen him out of the Indomitable Lions fold for at least two years.

“Mr Samuel Eto’o Fils is a world famous athlete who has rendered outstanding service to Cameroon’s national teams…He could still offer useful services to the men’s senior national football team in upcoming competitions,” Fecafoot said.

The decision to reconsider (reduce but not scrap) the sanction, although the player did not appeal, was taken for the good of the game while reaffirming the importance of  respecting institutions, authorities, set rules and regulations, the federation explained.

Earlier in the week the Federation refuted allegations that Cameroon’s President Paul Biya had ordered that the sanctions be reduced.

The Federation also reconsidered the situation of deputy captain Enoh Eyong Takang.  The Ajax Amsterdam midfielder had been handed a two-game ban for his role in the November player strike. He will now be suspended for two months, which would mean a one-match ban at the most.

Fecafoot, which has not clarified if the revised suspensions take effect as from January or from the date of the initial sanctions (in December), also rescinded the 1 million FCFA ($2000) fine they initially imposed on left fullback Benoit Assou-Ekotto for not respecting a call-up in November.

SONG IN
Meanwhile, the Federation appointed a former captain, Rigobert Song, as Team Manager. He replaces Martin Etonge who was bizzarely dropped last June. That means Song is not the “coordinator of national teams,” a post that had been promised and finally not (created nor) given to another former international, Patrick Mboma.
Although many fans and the media hail the inclusion of a former player (and iconic captain) in the national team management, suspicion is rife that his appointment is a divide and rule tactic from a spineless federation, which seems unable to control Eto’o’s perceived influence over the team.
“(…) Rigobert Song would certainly limit Samuel Eto’o’s power over the team. Eto’o has a lot of influence over the players,” a Fecafoot board member told Camfoot.com.
Song left the national team in acrimonious circumstances after he was stripped of his captaincy by former head coach Paul Le Guen in favour of Eto’o. A good number of the players remained faithful to him leading to a massive split in the dressing room that affected Cameroon’s performances at the 2010 Africa Cup and World Cup competitions.
However, there are many in the Federation who hope that Song would be the link between the players and officials. He is expected to create opportunities for dialogue, which was impossible during the November Crisis, when players refused to travel to Algeria.
MAYEBI OUT
The Federation has also instructed all national team players to forward their bank account details to Fecafoot so that their match bonuses be transferred directly to them, in a bid to improve management.
Match bonuses are currently paid in cash.  This contributed to fester the row over appearance bonuses which ended with players refusing to play against Algeria.  Authorities claimed they had not travelled with sufficient liquidity to pay that particular bonus.
Such archaic managerial routines were widely criticised by the public that felt Fecafoot and its officials were also at fault in the events that led to the failed friendly. This increased a feeling of injustice among fans of the  suspended players.
Some of the worst criticism of the disciplinary sanctions came from within Fecafoot – in the shape of one of it’s vice-presidents, David Mayebi, who as head of the Cameroon Footballers’ Association (AFC), told local TV stations in December that the punishments meted out to Eto’o, Enoh and Assou-Ekotto were unjust.
Fecafoot executive committee has now suspended  David Mayebi, as well as AFC, in a move seen as retribution for openly giving support to the players against the federation.
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Cameroon’s national soccer team captain, Samuel Eto’o has been handed a fifteen match ban for inciting his teammates to revolt against how the team is managed. The players refused to travel to Algeria for a friendly game, in what the Anzhi striker described as a protest action along the lines of the “Arab Spring” revolutions that led to the fall of the Presidents of Tunisia and Egypt, the Cameroon Football Federation (Fecafoot) said in a statement on Friday.

Samuel Eto'o at a press conference in Dakar

Samuel Eto'o incited his team mates to revolt says Fecafoot

Eto’o told a disciplinary hearing on Monday 12 December that incompetence, dishonesty and injustice were the hallmarks of football managers in Cameroon. He said the players were treated like “kids” and their refusal to play against Algeria was a sign of protest against this state of affairs.

The players who were in Marrakech, Morocco for a friendly tournament,  had insisted that they would not travel to Algeria except authorities pay up a customary appearance fee of FCFA 500,000 each they get at every national team camp, which had not been handed them on that occasion.

Fecafoot says its officials and those of the Ministry of Sport  held several meetings with the players, particularly the captain, his deputy Enoh Eyong Takang and other senior players: Idriss Kameni, Jean Makoun and Alexandre Song but the players refused to budge.

The Federation says Eto’o failed to explain why the players refused to travel although the Algerian Federation offered to pay $30,000 once the team arrived in Algeria while the Cameroon Ministry of Sport dispatched FCFA 15 million.

DEMANDS

From the statement issued by the disciplinary council, it appears that the players, under the leadership of their captain, had made other demands which they wanted to be met.

–       The players wanted an increment in the match bonuses they are handed during friedlies

–       That the team captain be  consulted the federation signs contracts for any friendly match

–        Have the players fly in first class

–       That the captain have a copy of the federation’s contracts with its main sponsors

–       That what ever payments are made by these sponsors are given to all of the team’s staff

–       That the payment of appearance be obligatory at all friendly matches

–       That the authorities pay  a symbolic fee to the players for their participataion in the friendly game against Algeria

–       That the rate of match bonuses be reviewed (increased) ahead of the 2013 Africa Cup and 2014 Wold Cup that start next year.

“The players may have been right in their demands but their style and manner of seeking redress was bad,” a Senior Official in the Federation told me. He also  felt Eto’o and vice-captain Enoh Eyong Takang – who has been banned for two games – had slighted authorities and had to have their wings clipped.

The statement following the disciplinary hearing says Eto’o described the vice-President of Fecafoot as “Papa menteur” (a lying old man).

SOLDIERS

Apparently, Eto’o and Eyong are being punished for protesting. These are players and their role (in the words of the official who spoke to me) is to obey orders like soldiers.

The fact that the Federation and the Ministry of Sport did not agree on who was to pay the said appearance fees (an aspect that transpires in the disciplinary council’s statement) has been conveniently brushed aside.

Authorities have argued that the money finally came on the eve of the match and that the Algerians were ready to pay.  But does that absolve them from accusations of incompetence?

If it was possible to get FCFA 15 million on the eve of the game after the players threatened to boycott the game in Algeria – why had the authorities not done so earlier? Didn’t the players make present their demands at the start of the camp in Morocco?

Why, even for courtesy sake, were the players not told before that they were going to play in Algeria for free? And was it normal – for Cameroon’s image – that Algerians be called upon to pay fees which should be the duty of Cameroonian authorities?

Refusing to play a game is certainly reprehensible. In addition, some of the players’ demands (mentioned above) seem a stretch too far. However, not all the persons responsible for the fiasco have been judged or punished.

Federation officials who spent their time warning and threatening the players, are the same people who wrote reports used against the players, and are the same people who appeared as witnesses to testify against the players. What does that say about fairness and justice?

Apparently, Eto’o picked the wrong crowd to start an “Arab Spring” uprising against.

He has 10 days to appeal the verdict of the disciplinary council. However, if his 15 match ban is upheld it would mean the end to his international career. It isn’t a secret that many would love to see him gone, though. He has often been criticised for an overbearing grip on the team, staff and officials. Such a ban would also send a warning to any potential dissidents in the ranks of the Indomitable Lions.

However, it leaves a rather wealthy and popular loose cannon, who knows enough to rock the federation’s stable. This may come to haunt those who took the decision in the long run.

Cotonsport Garoua have won the 2011 edition of the Cup of Cameroon. They defeated Unisport du Haut Nkam 3-0 on Sunday in Yaounde. But don’t go thinking it was an exciting encounter. No. The victory came through penalty shoot-outs after both teams had dished out an insipid performance for 90 minutes.

The first-half was the worst football performance I have watched this year. A catalogue of failed passes, mis-controlled balls and misses that were worthy of a secondary school football match.

“I am disappointed,” Henry Njalla Quan, the deputy president of the newly created Cameroon professional football league, said after the game.

“The quality of the match was far below what I expected,” Njalla Quan  told CRTV news.

He hoped the managers would do their utmost to improve their teams before the start of continental club competitions where they are expected to represent Cameroon.

Some of the elementary technical and tactical errors exhibited by the players in that game were a disgrace to local football in Cameroon.

But do we have to put all the blame on the players? Not really.

The teams qualified for this final in August.  They had to wait until December to play the game. Nearly five months, most of which were spent practically doing nothing because the football league also ended within that period.

They had to wait  for the Presidency to set a date since the final marks the end of the sports season in the country, and it is usually chaired by the President of the Republic. The date was only made known this week.

How, in such circumstances, would those players perform well? One could clearly see they lacked match fitness. They were rusty. Training does not replace competitive football. Never.

For the good of the game, it is about time Cameroon set a date (like it’s done elsewhere) at the start of the season. If the President is unavailable for whatever reason, have somebody represent him. The Prime Minister did so last year and the world did not come to an end.

The President gets represented at international summits and various events holding in Cameroon by a plethora of officials from the President of the National Assembly, through the chairman of the (moribund) Economic and Social Council to ministers. Any of these people could do same at the Cup of Cameroon final.

Cameroon has a new minister of sport and physical education. He is Adoum Garoua, a former athlete who played for the national volley-ball team and also defended Cameroon colours in high jump.

Adoum Garoua was Minister of Youth Affairs until his appointment on Friday 9 Dec by President Paul Biya.

He served in the Ministry of Youth and Sport as head of human resources.  He would need all the tact and expertise of an HR manager to deal with the sports sector in Cameroon, especially football.

He replaces Michel Zoa whose last act was to supervise the final rehearsal of the parade that will precede the Cup of Cameroon final between Cotonsport Garoua and Unisport du Haut Nkam (Bafang).

Adoum Garoua was also present at the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium on Friday for the rehearsal but claims he wasn’t aware at the time that he would be named Minister of Sport.

He is the fourth Minister of Sport since Bidoung Mpkatt was dropped in 2004. Interestingly, Bidoung Mkpatt now returns as Adoum Garoua ‘s successor  in the Ministry of Youth.

Football authorities in Cameroon have summoned the captain of their national football team, Samuel Eto’o (Anzhi Makhachkala) and his deputy Enoh Eyong Takang (Ajax Amsterdam), to a disciplinary hearing after the team refused to play a friendly, local media reported on Sunday.

Cameroon were due to play Algeria on Tuesday 15 Nov but the players did not travel for the game.

Cameroon authorities want Eto’o and Enoh to explain why the team basically went on strike, in what is seen by the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT) and the ministry of sport as gross misconduct and a disgrace to the country’s image.

The players had issued a statement on 13 Nov saying they were not ready to play because of the non-payment of an appearance bonus (Prime de Presence) which they receive each time they  are called to camp.

By the time the sports ministry finally wired funds via a money transfer service less than 24 hours before kick-off, the players had firmly opted not to play and the game was cancelled.

The Lions didn't look convinced by what authorities were saying at this meeting in Marrakech. (Photo by Linus Pascal Fouda: Team Press Officer)

BAD GOVERNANCE

Officials want to punish the players but soccer pundits in the country have come to the team’s defence.

“The problems the Lions have been facing are not due to the (in)competence of players or the coaches who succeed each other at a furious pace at the helm of this team,” wrote Cameroon Tribune, the government-run daily.

“The issue of governance (administration of the Indomitable Lions) is a major concern,” the paper said.

As an example of bad management, pundits point to the fact that the players only learnt in Morocco (where they were participating in a friendly tournament)  that FECAFOOT was not expected to make any proceeds from the  game in Algeria.

In other words, they had not been told that they were practically going to play in Algeria for free and when they asked they were rebuffed by the officials present, journalists who travelled with the team said on a television show.

It should be noted that FECAFOOT and the players have an arrangement wherein both parties split the proceeds of friendly matches.

“If they asked what they were due and were not given an answer, it is quite normal, or rather, I think they felt  it was quite normal, for their part , not to play this game,” Jean Paul Akono, the deputy national technical director, told CRTV.

“These  are professional footballers… If you do not tell them in advance that they are going to play a match without proceeds, which would surprise me, when they go to play, they expect to be paid… I doubt that there was no fee for this match against Algeria… “ added Akono, who is a former head coach of the Indomitable Lions.

An interview given by the team captain to state radio (CRTV) on Friday 11 Nov, in which he complained about poor organisation and urged the authorities to take action, shows that the players had had enough of the unprofessionalism around them, pundits say.

BLAME GAME

Fecafoot and the ministry of sport have in the days following the incident traded accusations over who was responsible for the unpaid allowances.

The ministry says it only pays the (now infamous) “participation allowance” when the team is playing a competitive fixture, suggesting that the federation should be responsible in the case of friendlies.

FECAFOOT issued a statement which suggests that these allowances are not mandatory but that they were willing to pay then once the team returned from Algeria. A federation spokesman said on local TV (Canal 2 International) that the federation did not have the funds in hand in Morocco.

Both the federation and the ministry of sport have since held crisis meetings in which they resolved to dispatch a team of officials to Algeria to apologise for the failed rendez-vous.

Meanwhile, media  reports say the Algerian football authorities have taken the Cameroon football federation (FECAFOOT)  to football’s governing body FIFA for breach of contract.

The Algerians had sold out tickets for the match and sold broadcast right to several TV stations. They want FECAFOOT to reimburse the losses they have incurred.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto has also been summoned to explain why he did not show up for the camp in Morocco.

Cameroon have won a friendly football tournament (LG Cup) after they defeated Morocco 4-2 during a penalty shoot-out. Both teams were tied 1-1 after regular play time and had to revert to penalties to have a winner as per the rules of the competition.

Denis Lavagne (left) and his assistant Ndtoungou Mpile (right) win first trophy but did they get their tactics right? (Photo by Linus Pascal Fouda, Team Press Officer)

Samuel Eto’o, Henri Bedimo, Dany Noukeu and Enoh Eyong scored their spot kicks for Cameroon while while Morocco missed two of theirs.

Cameroon may have won but Morocco were the better playing side for most of the 90 minutes (plus injury time). Their short passing was precise, with regular one-twos and give-and-go passes that ran the Cameroon midfield ragged.

The Atlas Lions (Morocco) also showed they had the capacity to switch their game, adding more penetration that took Cameroon’s midfield off-guard. This put the centrebacks: Georges Mandjeck (preferred to Joel Matip) and Dany Noukeu on the back-foot

The Indomitable Lions were playing a 4-3-3 where the fullbacks were expected to bomb forward to create width and support the attackers but Morocco played so high-up and at such high tempo that, Bernard Angbwa (right-back) and Henri Bedimo (Left-back) were hemmed-in for most of the encounter.

FIGHTING SPIRIT OVER TECHNIQUE

Two games in two days may have stretched the Indomitable Lions physically. They were forced (by a deluge of injuries) to start with the same that played against Sudan on Friday. However, in a very Cameroonian never-say-die spirit (which had been missing for a while) the team refused to lose.

By the 75th minute when Eto’o scored the curtain-raiser, the Moroccans had obtained 8 corner-kicks to Cameroon’s none. The Moroccans also squandered several goal scoring opportunities, often shooting wide but also denied by the impressive N’Dy Assembe in Cameroon’s goal.

Towards the last 15 minutes of the first-half and during a 15-minute spell before and after Eto’o’s opener Cameroon, however regained the upper-hand. Enoh, Landry N’Geumo and Alex Song fighting for every ball and blocking every space in midfield.

The technique from young Vincent Aboubakar and substitutes Edgar Salli and Jacques Zoua temporarily shifted the balance of power. Were it not for for a really poor final shot from Jean Makoun after a superb combination, Cameroon would have been 2-nil up before the Moroccans equalised.

The Olympiakos player who is not a first choice for Cameroon anymore surely lost the little sympathy fans still have for him.

RETURN OF THE 4-3-3 DEBATE

It is not unusual for Cameroon to win games and tourneys without being the most pleasing side to watch. The Junior Lions typified this Cameroonian quality during the African Youth Championships and the U-20 World Cup tournaments this year.

Nonetheless Cameroon fans have already started complaining about the 4-3-3 formation that coach Denis Lavagne is using. (Does that sound familiar Mr Le Guen?) Many have suggested on online forums that Cameroon hasn’t got the players for that system so the team should return to a  4-4-2  formation that will provide natural width.

I don’t really fancy Cameron playing a system that hinges on wide men. They do not have the players that Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United and Harry Rednapp’s Tottenham have got. Does Cameroon have Nani, Ashley Young, Gareth Bale and Lennon type players?

The country produces mostly players who feature in the centre of the pitch (centre-backs, central midfielders and strikers). Only the list of centre-backs and defensive midfielders could make up a squad:  Nicolas Nkoulou, Stephane Mbia, Aurelien Chedjou, Sebastien Bassong, Yaya Banana, Dany Noukeu, Guy-Armel Kana Biyick, Andre Bikey, Joel Matip, Alex Song, Eyong Enoh, Landry N’geumo, etc.

A DIAMOND COMPROMISE

Indomitable Lions coaches have resorted to playing systems where they can adapt some of the strikers as wide forwards (but not wingers) or playmakers or given creative roles to otherwise defensive midfielders.

This has usually meant playing formations such as 4-2-3-1, 4-3-2-1 (a.k.a Christmas Tree) and 4-3-3. When they have tried playing 4-4-2, they have been forced to use fullbacks (such as Henri Bedimo) as wingers, drawing the ire of the same fans and media calling for a return to ‘simple ways’.

A compromise between playing 4-4-2 and fitting the kind of players at the disposal of Cameroon’s coaches would be to play a diamond midfield: a holding midfielder, a playmaker behind two strikers and 2 shufflers running the channels in midfield (playing narrow) but not wingers.

Although, I’d advise the managers to do things as they deem right for the team, they might want to try a diamond midfield against a relatively weaker opponent. Isn’t it one of  Martin Ndtoungou Mpile’s (deputy head coach) favourite formations?

However, there’d be little width except the fullbacks join in (requiring a lot of defensive and attacking duties for them). The game would be overly dependent on the playmaker being able to click creatively but also supporting the defence.

Denis Lavagne has been named interim head coach of Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions. He is at the helm of a three-man team that includes Martin Ndtoungou Mpile as deputy head coach and Pierre Mbarga as goalkeeping trainer.

Their mission is to qualify Cameroon for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations to be hosted by South Africa. In order words, they must succeed where the previous staff headed by the Spaniard Javier Clemente failed.

Clemente and his assistants Francois Omam Biyick and Jacques Songo’o were sacked on Tuesday for failing to qualify the Lions to the 2012  Africa Nations Cup  in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

Is this 47-year-old Frenchman the right man for the job?  Was he appointed simply because he is a foreigner willing to stay in Cameroon as some pundits have claimed in the media? (Listen to him speak moments after his appointment).

Lavagne was an assistant coach at four clubs – Nimes, Bastia, Valence and Bezier – in France’s lower leagues. He then became head of the academy at Sedan football club in France and Qatar Sports club in Qatar. He landed at Cotonsport Garoua in Cameroon in 2007 after a brief assignment in China.

He led Cotonsport to a number of championship victories as manager and then became the technical director of the club’s academy. After a short break-up with the Cotonsport management he returned as a Manager, a position he held until his appointment to the Lion’s Den.

Cameroon’s football legend, Roger Milla, does not believe winning national championships with Cotonsport is enough to make Lavagne a good coach for the Lions. Some Cameroonians think the Frenchman is a light-weight with regards to the calibre of players Cameroon has (many of whom play for top clubs in Europe).

The Frenchman told national radio that he would prove his worth on the field. His supporters highlight his understanding of the mentality of Cameroonian players and the politics that goes on in the national team. Big names like Paul Le Guen, Arthur Jorge and Clemente did not have this knowledge which explains their faliure, it is argued.

Cameroon’s most successful expatriate coaches have generally been unknown prior to their arrival in the country, according to a Cameroon football official we spoke to this afternoon.

Claude Leroy, who led the Lions to victory in 1988 at the Africa Cup of Nations; Pierre Lechantre who did the same in 2000 and Valery Nepomniachi,who was in-charge when the Lions reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 1990; had little pedigree before they landed in Cameroon, he explained.

WHAT ABOUT NDTOUNGOU

Yet, several TV pundits and newspaper columnists believe that the job should have been handed to Martin Ndtoungou (Lavagne’s deputy) who  is more experienced in managing national teams.

Ndtoungou was Winfried Schaffer’s assistant in 2003 when the Lions reached the finals of the Confederations Cup in France. He is a three-time winner  (as assistant in 1999 and 2003 and as head coach in 2007) of the Gold Medal at the All Africa Games with the U-23 national squad. He won the Olympic Gold Medal in 2000 as Jean Paul Akono’s assistant and led the U-23 squad to the quarter-finals of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

This year he was in-charge of the Junior Lions (U-20) team that finished second in the African Youth Championships and led them to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Columbia.

He knows almost all the players who are vying for a place in the national team because he has been their trainer at youth or senior level. Why Ndtoungou accepted to be an assistant  is a mystery to many.

The 53-year-old told national radio that he discussed with Lavagne, the Cameroon Football Federation and the Ministry of Sport and decided to put a hold on his personal ambitions (to be head coach) for the good of Cameroon football.

The football official we spoke to said this was Cameroon’s form of a Jurgen Klinsman and Joachim Loew tandem as Germany operated between 2004 and the end of the 2006 World Cup.

“Loew was clearly more experienced and tactically stronger but Klinsmann had that punch and determination to make a name that uplifted the Germans,” the official who did not want to be named  said.

“We hope that would happen for us and by the way it is an interim appointment which means the door isn’t closed,” the official added.

Whatever people’s personal views, Denis Lavagne is now in-charge. Hopefully, Cameroonian sports reporters and pundits would switch from debates over race and the nationality of the coach to discuss his tactics and concept of football.

Is he a defensive or attack minded coach? Does he prefer 4-4-2; 4-2-3-1;4-3-3; 3-3-1-3; 3-4-3 or 4-5-1?  Does he prefer his teams to play direct football or does he insist on construction from the back with short-passes in tight spaces?

Last year the media forgot about these things when Clemente was named only to become surprised and disgusted over the Spaniard’s ultra-defensive approach whereas that was the man’s identity – known to all specialists.

Is this man Cameroon's new coach?

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.


Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions resume service on Wednesday, 11 August 2010 in an international friendly against Poland. It is supposed to be a fresh start after their dreadful World Cup in South Africa last June. But something doesn’t feel right. There is that hazy feeling among fans that they’ve been here, seen and heard this before.

A friendly. In August. A new coach. Transition.

On 12 August 2009 Cameroon were playing  for the first time under a new coach, Paul Le Guen.  One year later they are under another coach (albeit an interim) Jacques Songo’o.  It is the déjà vu syndrome that has been plaguing Cameroonian football in general, and the Lions in particular.

Flash-back to June 2009.  Otto Pfister abandoned ship before a crucial World Cup qualifier and the team was left under the interim leadership of the goalkeeping trainer, Thomas N’Kono. He was once a captain of the  Indomitable Lions and used to play for Canon Yaounde in the past.

Fast-forward to June 2010. Le Guen, who was recruited in July 2009, threw-in the towel after the country’s worst World Cup showing.  His goalkeeping coach, Jacques Songo’o, has had to step-in as interim boss. Songo’o is also a former national team skipper and an alumni of Canon of Yaounde.

It’s so similar you may want to pinch yourself to be sure it’s not a dream.

A COACH PER YEAR

In the last 10 years (since 2000) Cameroon have changed their head coach and/or coaching staff  a whooping 13 times. The managers have included: Pierre Lechantre (twice), Jean Paul Akono, Robert Corfu, Winfried Schaeffer, Arthur Jorge, Aarie Haan, Jules Nyongha (twice), Otto Pfister, N’kono (+ Jean Paul Akono, Kaham Michel, Ndtoungou Mpile), Paul Le Guen, Jacques Songo’o…

The average lifespan at the helm of the Indomitable Lions is 1 year 3 months (skewed by Winfried Schaeffer’s long-haul 2001 to 2004).

It is nearly impossible for a national team coach to build a trophy winning squad (or even runners-up) in such a short period.

Managers have roughly 7 dates in a calendar year (apart from full tournaments)  for international matches. They usually have about 3-5 days ahead of such fixtures to work with their squads. They need time to understand their players, build cohesion and ensure that their chosen tactics work.

Ultimate success at a major tournament is the result of continuity and vision rather than madness.

Proof is that countries that have won the World Cup or the European Championships and/or finished as runners up in these tournaments in the past decade don’t drop coaches like a super-model changes clothes.

Spain, the current World Cup and European Cup holders, have had 4 head coaches since 2000. Germany and Greece have had 3 managers  and France have seen only 4 (including Laurent Blanc) within that same period. Holland have changed their coach 5 times; Portugal 4 times; Italy 6 and Brazil 5.

The pharoahs of Egypt have won the Africa Cup of Nations thrice in a row since 2006 with the same head coach.

Cameroon’s authorities though, seem not to have noticed  that the Lions’ recent successful spells were under long serving coaches: Schaeffer (2002 Africa Cup of Nations trophy and runners-up 2003 Confederations Cup) and Pierre Lechantre from 1998 to 2000(winner of the 2000 Africa Cup).

ALWAYS READY TO RE-START

It is tempting to think French writer and 1947 Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Andre Gide,  was referring to Cameroon when he wrote that “everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over a again.”

Admittedly, not all long managerial spells are productive. Yet, even Raymond Domenech led France to a final of the World Cup in 2006 and Dunga won a Copa America and a FIFA Confederations Cup at the helm of Brazil!

Cameroon’s Minister of Sport and the chairman of the football federation (FECAFOOT) have said publicly that the next coach (oh yes, N°14) will be handed a 4-year-contract. They’ve both talked about their determination to put an end to short-termism and the hiring of fire-fighting coaches to save Cameroon’s often burning footballing house.

That’s as far as speeches go. Reality says that since Le Guen resigned in June they have not succeeded to name a replacement. An appointment was expected this week but it was delayed. A FECAFOOT official told a news conference in Poland that a major clean-up of the organisation and staffing  of national teams is underway and that requires approval from government before a coach is officially named.

It smacks of the story-line that followed Arthur Jorge’s resignation after the Africa Cup in February 2006. Dutch born, Aarie Haan was only appointed in September, a week to the first game of the qualifiers to the 2008 Africa Cup against Rwanda. Jules Nyongha, the interim, had already summoned the players for the game. Haan’s tenure mostly resembled  a joke that reached circus proportions when he announced his resignation via an email to the press  6 months later.

Are we headed down that same road?  A déjà vu of sorts?

Albert Einstein, a Nobel Prize winner, described insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Surely, those who run the Indomitable Lions don’t want to be described as insane?

Samuel Eto'o in green

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.

CRISIS

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.