Contributed by Nkafu Gabriel
It’s now completely certain that a different nation is going to lift the AFCON trophy this year as Cameroon’s dream to do so a second time in a row was shattered today in Alexandra by the Super Eagles of Nigeria. The indomitable lions of Cameroon got off to a very poor start today against Nigeria, conceding their first goal of the tournament in the first few minutes of play.
The goal however changed things for the lions as they became more offensive and finally Stephane Bahoken got an opener for the lions at the 42nd minute. It only got better for them as Njie Clinton brilliantly netted in Cameroon’s second goal two minutes later.
Cameroon came back even stronger and determined in the second 45 minutes but just when Cameroonian fans thought their nation was moving brilliantly into the quarter finals, Nigeria hit back through Ighalo and Iwobi, netting in two goals in less than 3 minutes. That was the end of the road for the lions as all further efforts were completely fruitless.
It was a sad moment for Cameroon, including African legend Samuel Eto’o who was at the Alexandra stadium to support the indomitable lions.
But what went wrong?
We saw an improved performance from Cameroon today as compared to that of their previous two matches but according to football analysts back home, the lions didn’t give them the performance they would have expected from the defending champions of the continent’s biggest competition.
Some of them think Clarence Seedorf may not have been the best coach for the team as Cameroon is the first African team he is managing and this was his first AFCON; Seedorf may have been a very prolific player in his days and may even be a great coach when it comes to club football but managing an African side is a totally different game.
Could the Ajax goalkeeper be the problem? Other Cameroonians think Andre Onana may have been a wrong choice as well. He is a great goalkeeper when it comes to club football, no doubt! but at home it’s a different story. Onana was unbeaten throughout the group stages of this competition but conceded three goals in just one match at the time when it mattered most. Some Cameroonians think Fabrice Ondoua may have been a better choice; his goalkeeping skills helped Cameroon win the trophy two years back in Gabon. He is known for saving the country at the most crucial moments.
The absence of key striker Vincent Aboubakar due to an injury may have also contributed to the early elimination of the lions. He was very instrumental in helping Cameroon lift their fifth AFCON trophy in Gabon.
Football is a uniting factor and a source of joy to virtually everyone in the country. At this moment when the country is plagued with crisis, setbacks and upheavals from different angles, a win for Cameroon would have been a major consolation for Cameroonians.