Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Shame Of 'Cameroon Eight' Repeated In Amajita Snub

The party in Libreville started the moment Cameroon saw off Ghana in the semis to book a spot in the Africa Cup of Nations final.

From then, the Gabon capital prepared for celebration, dismissive of the fact that standing before the Indomitable Lions was a formidable force, Egypt, who had clinched the Nations Cup on seven occasions, two of those at Cameroon's expense.

But folks in Libreville were confident that this time, Egypt would fall. From the early hours of Sunday, the day of the final, the green, red and yellow coloured flags of Cameroon started to fly high, with car horns blaring and locals dancing excitedly in anticipation.

As the day went by, many started to make their way to the Stade de I'Amitie, causing a traffic gridlock that had military officials working overtime.

The only time the sold out crowd was subdued was when Egypt took the lead through Mohamed El Neny, but after Nicolas Nkoulou cancelled that goal out, there was no turning back for Cameroon.

They had come a long way to be in Sunday's final, arriving in Gabon a disjoined lot following the withdrawal of several senior players from the squad.

Cameroon's Nations Cup success was a triumph of guts and sheer commitment, defying all odds and proving that you do not need big names to triumph.

As their coach Hugo Broos said, you require only "a group of friends ready to play for one another".

Sunday's success may have been celebrated all night in Libreville, and no doubt in neighbouring Yaoundé, Cameroon's capital, but it should in the long run provide a much-needed boost for the Nations Cup.

Many Europeans teams dread it, as for a month or so it means their teams lose important players to the tournament. Certain players feign injury to miss it, or "retire" from international football, while others - like the Cameroon eight who opted to remain at their teams rather than trek to Gabon - simply refuse to pitch.

Cameroon football authorities could have been petty and asked Fifa to ban those players from playing for their teams until after the tournament.

But instead Broos scoured further for talent, finding 14 players who had never played in an Afcon finals before. Fabrice Ondoa and Christian Bassogog may not have been household names now had those eight "stars" pitched.

With this in mind, we too in SA face a challenge of players not pitching to a national camp. Last week, our U-20 coach Thabo Senong had to name a changed squad after several clubs withdrew players from a camp he has called as preparation for the African Youth Championship, kicking off in Zambia later this month.

At stake is a ticket to the world championships, and Amajita need to finish among the top four in Zambia to progress.

But some of our clubs, in an act that displays selfishness and lack of foresight, have barred their players from teaming up with Amajita. It is absurd.

But like Cameroon's Broos, Senong has to soldier on and not cry over this.
Shame Of 'Cameroon Eight' Repeated In Amajita Snub
I can imagine just as the "Cameroon eight" are all without Nations Cup medals now and could miss the Fifa Confederations Cup in Russia in June, some of our U-20s could be filled with regret for not going to Zambia. - Matshe was in Gabon as a guest of SuperSport.
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