Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

29 January 2004

Tunisia/Cameroon: Nations Cup of Veteran Lions

Several former players of the National team are in Tunisia to watch the 24th African Cup of Nations.

The African Cup of Nations is the greatest football rendez-vous on the continent. It is therefore a point of convergence for football lovers. Former Lions are among the hundreds of guests at this year's event. Most of the former players of Cameroon's national team are in Tunisia in several capacities. Some are guests of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), invitees of the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT), while others are agents of the world football governing body, FIFA.

The diversity of their invitations notwithstanding, all the former players of Cameroon's national team, like any Cameroonian, have just one wish; see their darling team put up a good performance in Tunisia. Lea Eyoum Charles, for example, has confidence in the Indomitable Lions. The forward who defended the national colours from 1969 to 1972 says Cameroon has a strong national team. "Cameroon has good chances to winning the 24th African Cup of Ntaions. They play good football", he noted. But on a more cautious note Lea Eyoum says: "Football is what it is. We can play well and loss".

Lea Eyoum says a lot has changed in the football milieu on the continent as a whole and Cameroon in particular. "Football today is not what it was in the sixties and seventies. Players have become very materialistic", he said. He explained that in their days, players never cared about money. "Rather we were proud to defend the national colours. Our satisfaction was to put on the outfit of the national team", he noted.

The footballer turned businessman explained that there were moments when players were given only 100.000 frs as bonuses for matches which they won. "If you compare this with what the players receive today, then you can understand what I mean. I think we were born too early", he concludes with a sigh. "I was voted third African player in 1971, and best player in Cameroon the same year, but what did this bring to me?", he questioned.

This low remuneration notwithstanding, the Lions of the sixties say that loved the game for the sake of the game alone. "We all wanted to play, because to us, football was first a game before any other thing. We enjoyed playing with the ball", he said. This certainly explains why watching football is still a favourite pass time to most of the former players of the National team.

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