The onus is on the Coach of the Indomitable Lions now that he knows the teams Cameroon is going to play against in the qualifying phase.
The countdown to the next Africa Cup of Nations, the continent’s most prestigious football tournament, has started in earnest with the draws made in Libreville last Wednesday night. Cameroon now knows its opponents for the first phase of the competition; the most important because it will require eliminating at least two teams to expect to qualify for the knock-out rounds. By the same token, the new Coach of the Indomitable Lions, Hugo Broos will effectively begin executing some of the most demanding sections of his contract.
It will be recalled that the Belgian technician was selected last February 13, 2016 amidst surprise because, for many, he did not carry the profile of one expected to carry out the team from the crisis it had plunged itself into. For one thing, he did not carry the charisma required to tower over players with blown out egos, a situation only a coach of dominating credentials could effectively manage. Quite strangely, Mr Broos has been able to bring back calm into the squad to the extent that internecine wrangling of that period are today considered a thing of the past. From a contractual point of view, he has been able to bring back the much-desired new spirit. He has also drastically rejuvenated the team, bringing on board many new figures, unheard of before.
The Coach is on the door of his first-ever Africa Nations’ Cup tournament. His contract specifically requested that he gets the team qualified for this tournament. That, he has done. Now, he is also expected to go as far as possible with the tournament. How far he goes will all go to his credit and if he was not specifically expected to bring back the Africa Nations Cup to Cameroon, one thing he must do is to ensure that the AFCON edition to be hosted by Cameroon in 2019 must be won. That is in his contract. So his performance in Gabon is expected to serve as an important dress rehearsal for the 2019 tournament.
As we write these words, the International federation of Football Associations, FIFA announced that Cameroon has maintained its standing on the world football ratings, but improved on its African position by moving one step up and consequently featuring in Africa’s top ten football nations. For over ten years, Cameroon has been struggling to improve on its once-impressive posture and it will only be right if the new Coach tries to improve on the situation.
The Gabon AFCON is also coming at a time Cameroon must seek to reap dividends from the huge investments made in sporting infrastructure in the likes of what is going on in Yaounde and Limbe for the coming Women’s AFCON and which will continue in other towns, notably in Yaounde, Douala and Bafoussam for the 2019 AFCON. Even for these efforts, Cameroon has every reason to dream!