home      service centre   |   publications   |   football family   |   competitions   

Cameroon swap chaos for German efficiency

© Reuters 2002

By Brian Homewood

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Cameroon, famous for maverick strikers like Roger Milla and in-fighting among officials, has showed a different side to their character as they won their fourth African Nations Cup with German-style efficiency.

The Indomitable Lions, who beat Senegal on penalties to retain the title they won in Nigeria and Ghana two years ago, still possess the exuberant swagger that delighted the world in 1990 when they became the first African team to reach a World Cup quarter-final.

But the tactical naivety and bickering that wrecked subsequent attempts to better that effort appeared to have been conquered during the three-week tournament in Mali.

Cameroon went through all six matches plus extra time in the final on Sunday without conceding a goal as the influence of Winfried Schafter, the first German to coach the national side, became apparent. Their performances suggest they are well placed to go one better than in 1990 as they lead Africa's challenge at the World Cup in Korea and Japan.

"We all know what the Germans are like, they are tactically very disciplined, and this helps - the mixture of everything makes the team stronger," said midfielder Laurent Etame Mayer. Fullback Geremi Fotso Njitap, who plays with Spanish giants Real Madrid, added: "Let's say that when Cameroon play now, we look a bit like Germany.

"We are lucky to have a German, we are learning German things with him and it's doing us good. "We have to admit that there was a lack of discipline beforehand, we accept this, but this was more a problem with the directors.

"But now the directors know that in football we can achieve a lot, but they know for that to happen we have to be disciplined."

Schafer, who took over in September but still does not speak French and communicates by gestures, said he was enjoying every minute of his African adventure after spending his entire playing and coaching career in Germany. "I have a great family at home but I haven't been homesick once, they are a top team with a strong character," he told Reuters.

"Senegal were a good team but we were better." Senegal, who have qualified for their first World Cup finals, also showed enough promise to worry their first round opponents.

The pace of El Hadj Ousseynou Diouf in attack and the free kick specialities of midfielder Khalilou Fadiga are

particular strengths.

The Lions of Teranga, who like Cameroon combine physical strength with good technique, were the revelation of the tournament as they knocked favourites Nigeria out in the semifinal after beating Egypt in the first round. "We have now proven to everybody the talent and quality in our squad," said captain Aliou Cisse. "Senegal is now highly respected in Africa."

But Africa's other three World Cup representatives - Nigeria, South Africa and Tunisia - were all disappointing. Although Ukrainian-based striker Julius Aghahowa, who scored three goals and celebrated with his trademark back-flips, had a good tournament, the Super Eagles were a huge let-down despite finishing third.

Big name players such as Arsenal striker Nwankwo Kanu and Paris St Germain's Austin Okocha produced inconsistent displays, with Okocha being booed off when he was substituted during the semifinal defeat by Senegal.

Few observers believe coach Shaibu Amodu will still be in his job when the World Cup finals begin on May 31. South Africa scraped through the first round, drawing their first two games 0-0, before bowing out meekly to Mali, as they failed to produce a threatening shot on goal in their 2-0 defeat.

Tunisia coach Henri Michel publicly criticised his players as they were knocked out in the first round without scoring a goal in 270 minutes of desperately dull football.

Reports provided by

Sunday, 17 February
Japan defender Hattori out for six to eight weeks
England's Eriksson happy to have youth on his side
Saturday, 16 February
North Korea beat Thais to win King's Cup on penalties
Togo's Sara de Bafilo banned after missing cup match
Friday, 15 February
Former Denmark striker Eriksen dies at 44
Portugal goalkeeper Quim suspended over drugs test
Football fanatic keeps the faith
Ireland to start Euro 2004 campaign in Moscow
China and Slovenia struggle in Hong Kong
'McVogts' aims for Euro 2004 at Germany's expense
Puskas weeps as tributes pour in for Hungary's Hidegkuti
James cheered by England return
Collated results of international friendlies
Mexico coach no longer fears Cup opponents Croatia
Thursday, 14 February
Asian Games to follow Olympic U-23 format
North Korea beat Thailand in Kings Cup final rehearsal
Vivas hopes for quick Ronaldo return
Top players to continue image rights negotiations
Caniggia looks to mend rift with Maradona
'Kabul United' and foreign troops train for sellout match
Former Spanish coach Balmanya dies aged 87
U.S. rue missed chances in Italy
Wednesday, 13 February
Olisadebe dreads possible Poland-Nigeria clash
South Africa FA to review coach Quieroz's future
Eriksson reaches out to England's adults
Mexico happy to be facing strong Yugoslavian side
Tuesday, 12 February
Ireland likely to test new boys against Russia
Italy new boys handed chance to impress
Belgium coach Waseige to experiment against Norway
Beckham and Gerrard train with England
Van Nistelrooy hails England and Beckham
Coach Jozic looking for consistency from Croatia
England ready for experiments galore
Monday, 11 February
England wait on Beckham and Gerrard fitness
Belgium's Mpenza, Valgaeren out of Norway friendly
Beckham hopes to be fit for Dutch test
Bulgaria coach vows new tactics against Croatia
Lemerre has not ruled Anelka out yet
European-based trio strengthen Ecuador
Trapattoni looking to experiment against U.S.
Barthez pulls out of Romania friendly
McCarthy signs two-year Ireland deal

  Copyright © 1994-2002 FIFA. All rights reserved.
  Copyright © 1994-2002 En-Linea, Inc. All rights reserved.