The demise of Cameroon's Indomitable Lions

Samuel Eto'o

Cameroon were defeated by Cape Verde to ensure there will be no place for them at the African Nations Cup for the second time in succession. We look at the fall of Samuel Eto'o's side and the potential for them to rise via the youth prospects of Barcelona, Malaga and Mallorca.

Indomitable, a quick search on Google gives you the most basic description of this words overwhelming meaning.

Impossible to subdue or defeat.

Not any more. There once was a time when a country who used this adjective to describe their prowess in Africa did so with high elements of truth but now Cameroon appear to have been tamed.

Cape Verde is a small archipelago of 10 islands located in the Atlantic Ocean around 350 miles off the coastline of Western Africa. It history is a sketchy one, colonised by the Portuguese in the 15th century and also tagged with an unwanted legacy from the Atlantic slave trade it has never experience much joy in the world of football.

Cape Verdean footballers have usually gone on to feed the higher echelons of European football. Nani, Jorge Andrade and Rolando have all played for Portugal; Henrik Larsson Sweden and Luc Castaignos The Netherlands.

However they have now reached their first ever major international tournament at the expense of Cameroon. The writing was on the wall before last night’s 2-1 victory in Yaounde for the side that took the worlds breath away at Italia ’90, but the times of Roger Milla’s famous corner-flag jig are now just a high blip in an otherwise disappointing scatter graph.

The days of beating Argentina and coming within seven minutes of a World Cup semi-final was the ‘dawn of African football’ and while Senegal and Ghana have since gone on to have some success Cameroon were always expected to lead the charge, but the emergence of countries such as Cote D’Ivoire, Zambia and Mali have seen the African continent have a much more competitive edge.

The large diaspora and ex-patriation of nationalities playing across the European continent has been to the benefit of previous minnows such as Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, Cape Verde can now be added to this list. A squad almost entirely made up of players plying their trade in Portugal is what defeated Cameroon. Even with the instalment of a new coach and return of talismanic captain Samuel Eto’o could not save the Lions from being tamed.

They didn’t qualify for the World Cup in 2006 and on their home continent two years ago they were the 31st worst team of 32. Last year they were absent from the African Nations and come January there will be no place in South Africa for the 2003 Confederations Cup finalists.

However there is hope. Their second goal in that fixture came courtesy of Malaga’s 16-year-old striker Fabrice Olinga and Spanish youth teams are currently awash with talented stars of the future. Barcelona’s famed La Masia is currently developing talent such as Jean Marie Dongou, Frank Bagnack, Olivier Ebongue, Alain Ebwelle and Joseph Fabrice Ondoa Ebogo; add into the equation Mallorca’s Herve Mbega and the current dim outlook for Cameroon’s future may have a Spanish silver lining in years to come.

What do you make of Cameroon’s demise and potential rise via Spanish based starlets?

image: © Jason Bagley

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