There has been an outbreak of Manie-mania in Cameroon. After scoring the goal that sent Cameroon to the London Olympics in 2012 and helping the Indomitable Lionesses to qualify for their first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in 2015, Christine Manie – who is certainly living up to her name – has added another historic goal to her collection!
Manie’s goal – the clincher scored in added time at the end of the third place match at the CAF 2018 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations against Mali on 30 November last year – sent Cameroon on their way to France 2019, and saw her write yet another chapter in her country’s footballing history courtesy of her right boot.
"It’s incredible and difficult to explain," she said to FIFA.com when asked about the three goals. "I’m a centre back and usually I’m not the kind of person who knows where the back of the net is. Whenever I get near the opposition’s goal, my brain goes off in all directions! I don’t think that these goals have made me a hero, but what I do always try to do is set an example."
These goals from out of the blue are a perfect illustration of the example that she is trying to set. She may be a defender who claims to lack composure in front of goal, but Manie is first and foremost a warrior who goes above and beyond when she pulls on a Cameroon jersey. "It’s an immense honour and a pleasure to represent my country," she said. "I always have and I always will give my very best for Cameroon. If I could play until I’m 100 years old, I would."
She is not quite there yet – turning 35 on 4 May – but the captain of the Lionesses will almost certainly be on duty again at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019. Having gone down to China PR 1-0 in the Round of 16 in Canada four years ago, Manie and her team-mates are hoping to go further this time around in France, but results will not be all that counts for them.
"We want to enjoy ourselves and try to carry on improving the level of women’s football. Our sport is getting bigger and attracting more followers and media coverage, so we need to be up to the challenge of this growing interest and give people excitement and quality play!"
That should certainly be in abundance in Group E, where Cameroon will come up against Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands in what promises to be a tough and open group, with a number of old scores to settle and plenty of different playing styles. "The aim is simply to have a good World Cup campaign, give it our best shot and have no regrets," explained Manie, who now plays her club football for Nancy in France, having had stints in Belarus (with FK Minsk) and Romania (Olimpia Cluj).
Her ambition tempered with caution is exactly what you would expect from a captain – a role she has had for four years now, and is relishing every minute of it. "Just taking part in a World Cup is extraordinary, so to have the captain’s armband is absolutely fantastic," she said. "But it comes with a lot of responsibility. You need to set an example. At the World Cup, everything is out of all proportion. There is more pressure, more tension, more emotion… and that makes the role of the captain even more important. You need to make sure that the team keeps a clear head."
And despite her protestations to the contrary, a clear head is precisely what Manie has shown throughout her international career, never more so than when she finds herself in front of goal.