14 March 2018

Africa: AFCON Is At Our Doorsteps

The convening of players dismisses fears of concentrating preparations only on infrastructure but training must be made continuous.

It is often said that failing to prepare is preparing to fail. This, surely is exactly what the newly appointed interim coach of the Indomitable Lions, Alexandre Belinga, behind whom is the powerful team of the FECAFOOT Normalisation Committee wants to avoid.

Tongues had waggled for long on fears that preparations for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations [AFCON] of which Cameroon is host, are being tailored towards one direction; infrastructure. These fears were not far from being justifiable considering that AFCON cannot only be compressed to infrastructure building.

As host of this superlative continental bonanza, Cameroonians are certainly aware of the shame hanging on them should they allow the cup they won in a foreign country slip off their fingers. But for this not to happen, serious strategy must be built up to ensure victory on all sides including infrastructure development and meticulous preparations of the Lions.

Cameroonians like sports and football in particular which remains one, if not, the most uniting factor in the country. Stake holders will be doing just the wrong thing should they attempt to down play this.

Since the dismantling of the squad that won the trophy in Gabon and the departure of Hugo Broos, the atmosphere had been heavily charged with uncertainty as to what will happen next. Barrister Dieudonne Happi and his team whose mandate has been extended for the next six months are aware of the stakes.

The appointment of Alexandre Belinga as interim coach constitutes one of the spotty efforts to keep the flame of preparation burning pending the official appointment of a permanent new coach.

Irrespective of how far Belinga will go as interim coach, he appears to have been given full powers to reconstitute the national team and kick start preparations before things enter higher gear. And as fate would have it, he is taking up duty having in mind the wounds already sustained by the Lions and which need immediate treatment.

His first medicine is to bring in old experienced players in the likes of Idriss Carlos Kameni, Eric-Maxim Choupoo Moting, Andre Onana, Allan Nyom etc. Whether this will play the trick is not the real issue now. What is important is the fact that Belinga has launched a hunt for players that can reverberate the national team.

The real challenge for the coaches of the national football team for several years has been that of overcoming external influence. Even though sports is an instrument politicians have often used for their personal gains, it remains a very fragile if not well handled. That is why the fielding in of incompetent players will always yield devastating results.

The selection of the 23 players is just a step forward. The next obstacle now is how to enable them play as a team, because football is team sports. The final and perhaps most important stage is keeping the team together till AFCON takes off.


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