Fighter Fai: Time to bring back glory days
Come from behind win over Wild Dogs has Cameroon inspired to chase after Afcon glory
CAMEROON LEFT Stade de l’Amitie on Wednesday night with one of their players loudly playing a modern boomblaster that didn’t exist the last time the Indomitable Lions won a match at the Africa Cup of Nations. The four-time Africa champions’ 2-1 win over Guinea-Bissau was their first in the continental showpiece since 2010.
The fact that the victory was against minnows, who made Cameroon sweat after taking the lead with a spectacular individual goal by Piqueti, wasn’t an issue for them. What counted was that they had jumped over that hurdle to put themselves in a comfortable position to make it to the knockout stage from Group A. Cameroon sit at the top with four points, followed by Burkina Faso and hosts Gabon, who are both on two points and two goals while the Wild Dogs are in last place.
Hugo Broos’ heart was pushed to the limits by Cameroon. The Belgian coach paced frantically on the sidelines as he watched his team being outplayed by a nation making their debut in the tournament. But this didn’t torture Broos as much as assembling the 23-man squad Cameroon came with here after eight players, including Joel Matip and Eric Choupo-Moting, snubbed them. Broos hasn’t used their absence as an excuseat this Afcon. He has demanded that this group make their country proud.
“He (Broos) was very hard on us at half-tme (when we were trailing) because we didn’t do what he told us to do,” Cameroon defender Collins Fai said. “He came to the dressing room and put us in order. He was adamant as to what we needed to do, that we didn’t do in the first half. We have to go to the next stage of the tournament and if we want to challenge for this cup, that means picking up points in our group first. We will meet the best teams later in the tournament so coming up against the hosts in our next game will prepare us well for that.”
The chaos that surrounded Cameroon’s build-up to the tournament has united this group that made the cut. They are driven to show that they can do the job better than those eight players who showed their country the middle finger. The Indomitable Lions have one foot in the knockout stage. A win over Gabon on Sunday will see them top the group. Should they do that, they will meet the runners up of Group B – comprising Senegal, Tunisia and Zimbabwe – here on Sunday next week.
This generation doesn’t have the swagger of past Cameroon side, but they also don’t have the egos of past sides that have hurt the once-powerful nation to a point that they haven’t been African champions in 15 years.
“This win is a huge boost for us because it has been seven years since the last time Cameroon won a match in the Africa Cup of Nations,” Fai said. “Winning this game and the fighting spirit we showed is a good motivation for us. We have to bring back the glory days and make our names. We need to fight for the country. We are a solid group.” Njabulo Ngidi is in Gabon courtesy of SuperSport
THUMBS-UP: Cameroon’s Sebastien Clovis Saini, right, celebrates after scoring against Guinea Bissau during their Africa Cup of Nations Group A match at the Stade de l’Amitie, in Libreville, Gabon on Wednesday.