The indomitable Lions of Cameroon might have qualified for round II of World cup qualifiers in the African Zone for Brazil 2014 but the match left a bitter-sweet taste in the mouths of supporters; legendary attacker Samuel Eto’o Fils 32, used the game to announce the shocking news he was retiring from International football.
The decision he revealed to his team mates brings to an abrupt end his 16 years career as an international with the Lions. He first played for the team in 1997 when he was still a wide eyed 16 year old. During his time, he played 112 matches scoring 55 goals for the team.
Eto’Fils who until he retired was team captain is four-time winner of the Best African Player of the year award and best scorer so far for the final phase of the African Cup of Nations.
Iroko Africa learnt during the buildup to the match against Libya, Eto’o had a standoff with the German-born coach Volke Finke. Apparently, Eto’o wanted old Lions Achille Kouamou Webo and Carlos Idriss Kameni to start the match against Libya but Finke refused to select them to start the game.
Some analysts hold that Eto’o is a good player but his high profile football career abroad appear to have pushed him into making demands that other players and club officials thought were intrusive and arrogant. A Lions fans said “his leaving will give another lad a chance to shine”.
It is alleged t Eto’o arm twisted former Lions coach Frenchman Paul Marie Le Guen to make him team captain seizing the band from another comrade in arms Rigobert Song Bahanag. The President and Prime Minister had to intervene when Eto’o refused to play for the team after Fecafoot authorities banned him from the team for indiscipline.
Eto Fils, one of the best attackers on earth and who until recently was the highest paid footballer with little Known Russian premier league club Anzhi Makhachkala last won a trophy with the team 11 years ago in 2002. A year later, his friend and Lions midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe died during a semi finals confederation cup match against Colombia in Lyon France, from an undiagnosed heart condition.
Cameroonian football apparently died with Foe and the Lions have never recovered and won no trophy either since his death. They failed to even qualify for the last two nations cup finals losing a crucial away leg match against little known Cape Verde.
Since Foe’s death, Cameroonian football has degenerated into internal conflict, poor management and corruption by officials of FECAFOOT, Cameroon’s football governing body. The persistent interference in football matters by the various Sports ministers has not helped matters.
The frequent change of head coaches of the team was also bad for the team. Former Lions team playing Patrick Suffo told BBC sports World today that part of the reason the team under-performed for the last decade was the inability to replace old names with fresh new players .