6 February 2013

Cameroon: The football malaise persists!

While the public waits for a conquering squad, actor's amateurism rather steals the show.

Serenity is far from being achieved in the national football team, the Indomitable Lions. Efforts to rebuild a conquering squad capable of righting the wrongs that have deprived the nation of glory appear to be ending on the rocks. That 11 of the 21 players called up for an international friendly pitting the Lions against the Taifa Stars of Tanzania in Dar Es Salam yesterday February 6 defected lends credence to persistent malaise in the national team.

Eto'o, Song, Nkoulou, Emana, Nguemo, Matip, Makoun, Kana-Biyick, Angbwa and to a lesser extent Joslain Mayebi and Charles Itandje are first choice players in the squad. A communiqué from the football federation, FECAFOOT, presented the reasons, tenable or not, for the players' absences. For a team that has since lost its indomitable esteem of the yesteryears and that is struggling to stand to have its first choice players miss a keep-fit period like the yesterday's FIFA day is simply unacceptable. More so as the team had one of the worse performances in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, leading the 32 nations who competed from the underside with no point and failing to qualify for the last two editions of the African Nations Cup.

The appointment of a clamoured local trainer, Jean Paul Akono, to man the technical staff of the team was seen as a start to the end of the malaise. Although he failed to qualify the squad for the South African expedition, many thought he could pick the pieces and make up for the qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. After the failed qualifier for the ongoing Nations Cup last October, yesterday's friendly could have served as an opportunity to sharpen skills ahead of the March 23, 2013 qualifier against a top-form Togo in Yaounde.

From observation, stakeholders did not take yesterday's friendly seriously. The choice of the partner for the game (Tanzania, 124th on Fifa ranking) and the controversy that surrounded the selection) say it all. The coach himself was not in the country. He released his list from South Africa where he and his assistants were said to be following up Togo and DRC Congo, Cameroon's opponents in the qualifiers who have all been eliminated and long left South Africa. The players apparently took advantage to stay off and strive to consolidate their positions in their professional clubs.

Those who respected the Dar Es Salam rendezvous as well as those called up to fill the gaps have never been first choices in the squad. Since taking up the top job, observers say Akono has been changing the team game after game in the name of prospecting. The greatest problem now is the team he will use against Togo on March 23 in Yaounde. Anything short of a win against the formidable Togolese team fresh from the African Nations Cup would be synonymous with adding salt to wounds that are taking much time to heal.

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