Cameroon chaos in Qatar a charecteristic scourge


Cameroon international goalkeeper, Andre Onana. Photo by Reuters

from ROSY SADOU in Yaoundé, Cameroon
Cameroon Bureau
YAOUNDE, (CAJ News) – IT was not a matter of if, but when and how, Cameroon will implode at this World Cup.

They are history-makers for the right and wrong reasons on the international stage. Qatar is merely a reminder of their tendency to self-destruct.

The suspension of first choice goalkeeper, Andre Onana, is the latest in a series of implosions at World Cup tournaments.

The first nation from Africa to qualify for the quarterfinals, when the tournament was held in 1990, Cameroon have earned notoriety in the editions that have followed the history-making exploits in Italy.

On Monday, the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT) disclosed the 26-year-old Onana had been suspended after breaching the federations’ policies aimed at “preserving discipline, solidarity, complementarity and cohesion within the national team.”

This though is so hypocritical for a federation synonymous with squabbles.

FECAFOOT backed its manager in the fallout with his player, who allegedly refused to change his preferred style of sweeper-keeper. The fallout seems petty.

With the decision, former defender Song is apparently instilling discipline in the Indomitable Lions camp. How ironic.

Yet as a player, discipline was not one of the now 46-year-old coach’s attributes.

Coincidentally at the World Cup his anarchy ever got the better of him.

The man from Nkenglicock in southern Cameroon is a record breaker for all the wrong reasons at the world’s biggest sporting showpiece.

He holds the record of the youngest player to be sent off at the World Cup and the first to be red-carded in two consecutive editions.

Aged just 17, at United States ’94, Song was shown the dreaded card in the 64th minute as the Central Africans lost 3-0 to eventual winners Brazil in Stanford.

Another rush of blood to the head, this time at France ’98, had Song sent off in the 52nd minute against Chile.

The encounter at the Stade de la Beaujoire ended 1-1 with Cameroon finishing with nine men after fellow defender, Laureano Bisan-Etame Mayer, was sent off late in the match.

At Brazil 2014, Song’s nephew and midfielder, Alex Song, was sent off in a 4-0 loss to Croatia.

The Indomitable Lions have endured some run-ins with the Federation of International Football Federations (FIFA), the custodians of the beautiful game that has Cameroon intermittently displaying the ugly face of the sport.

They have a reputation as the mother body’s problem child.

The fallout peaked at the 2002 World Cup, jointly hosted by Japan and Korea, when the Indomitable Lions, captained by Song, rocked up in Asia with sleeveless tops.

The Cameroonians had won the African Cup of Nations with the outfit (Song was Player of the Tournament) and were hopeful the kit would inspire them to global glory.

However, in FIFA, they met their match in the authoritarian FIFA chief, Sepp Blatter, who would have none of it.

The kit was banned.

As a compromise, for the tournament held for the first time in Asia, the kit supplier merely stitched on black sleeves onto the vest.

The fallout with FIFA also involved Cameroon later playing in a one-piece kit, further incurring fines and having points docked.

FIFA briefly suspended Cameroon in 2013 for interference by President Paul Biya’s government in FECAFOOT, now headed by Samuel Eto’o.

There have been rumours Eto’o is interfering in team selection. His name has also sprung up in the debacle involving Onana, fuelling speculation that Eto’o, not Song, is in charge of the team.

Earlier this year, at least eight people died when Cameroon hosted the Africa Cup of Nations, in a match against Comoros at the Olembe Stadium in the capital, Yaoundé.

Despite the ructions ever recurring to rock their boat each time at the World Cup, Cameroon are a continental icon at this tournament, appearing eight times.

That is the most by any African side.

In Qatar, they face an arduous task to qualify for the knockout stages in Group B, where they are third with a game remaining.

With a single point secured from a frenetic 3-3 draw against Serbia on Monday, Cameroon next face perennial contenders and table-toppers Brazil in their final group match on Friday.

– CAJ News

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