30 April 2019

Africa: Cameroon - Libiih, From Glory On the Pitch to Success On the Bench

Winner of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) as a player in 1988 with the Indomitable Lions, Thomas Libiih has tasted yet another continental title after guiding Cameroon to success at the Total U17 Africa Cup of Nations, Tanzania 2019, beating Guinea 5-3 on penalties in the final.

Libiih did not only guide 'Les Lionceaux' to the U-17 AFCON glory, their first since 2003, he also ensured Cameroon qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup for the first time in 16 years.

Under Libiih, Cameroon was the darling team for the local fans in Tanzania from the onset. His first taste of glory was winning the zonal U-17 championship in Equatorial Guinea last August, beating Congo 3-1 in the final.

"During my career as a footballer, I noticed there is lack of coaching among young footballers and that's what convinced me to learn during my career as a player the tricks of coaching," Libiih told CAFonline.com.

Having represented Cameroon at two FIFA World Cups, 1990 (Italy) and 1994 (USA), his coaching career saw setbacks in his native Cameroon and neighbouring Gabon, forcing him to focus on youth football as head of a football academy back home.

"I have to help this children and not to rely on their parents most of whom come from the street," he added whilst calling for support for youth football on the continent.

"Even in the national team, sometimes we have to buy boots for the players. The attention is usually on the senior national team.

"Also, there should be regular training programs for coaches of School and Academies to equip them with requisite knowledge and skills to train the youngsters," Libiih said.

On his achievement in Tanzania, he lauded the commitment of his players from the beginning till the end of the tournament.

"I am happy for my players. They performed well in each game. They kept their spirit high and fought hard each day. The last success for Cameroon at this level was back in 2003, and this time our ambition was to rewrite history.

"Our target now is in the FIFA U-17 World Cup. We are going back home to regroup and prepare ourselves for this high moment in Brazil. It will be a tough and challenging tournament but we will make Africa proud," he concluded.


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