The indomitable lions, Cameroon’s national football team were yesterday welcomed home with euphoria that marked the importance and role of sports in nation building. They returned home after beating the Pharaohs of Egypt 2-1 to win the coveted African Cup, of Nations. The Lions’ victory at the 31st edition of the African continental football encounter marks the fifth time Cameroon has won the trophy since its inception.
But what was responsible for this pleasant surprise by a youthful team that was considered the underdogs of the competition? Their performance and the pride brought their compatriots makes them deserve the honour accorded them on their return home.
In less than a month of an outing to participate in an event that brings honour and pride to all nations, our youthful national team proved that we do not need to depend on professionals or veteran footballers to bring home victory.
The lessons these young compatriots have taught us are the rationale of commitment, team spirit, courage, determination, sacrifice and more significantly, love of the country. For, without patriotism, the aforementioned ingredients of maturity cannot be inherent in citizens of a country.
Besides, the importance of demonstrating this sense of responsibility in any event that demands the use of a country’s flag and singing of the national anthem, the honour reserved for those who stake their comfort and even lives for compatriots deserve the respect given soldiers and martyrs.
When they left for Gabon in the absence of more than half a dozen of the Cameroonian football professionals well-known to us, many, if not most people believed that once again we were out for an event in which the team would only pride itself of participation, not enviable performance, not to talk of victory.
However, courageous national coach Hugo Bross and his boys were set to demonstrate the confidence in themselves and ability to reap the dividends. And, this, they did the great way: no loss of morale, no timidity before an experienced Soccer giant on the African continent and no selfish displays at the cost of team spirit.
With such determination, the youthful lions who had scaled to the finals after humiliating the national teams of Senegal and Ghana, proved to the pharaohs of Egypt that they were out to alter the trends. Thank God, they did it, and by the time it was all over and the results were Cameroon, 2- Egypt 1. Great!
The result of this determination and courage to face an experienced team was rewarded when Cameroon equalized ushering in the hope that Frabrice Ondoa would make a difference if it comes to penalty shorts. But, Aboubakar Vincent brought the smiles and dancing and singing that could be seen and felt at the stade de l’Amitie in Libreville, Gabon.
This joy was also seen and felt in Cameroon at the end of the game and when the youthful lions returned home yesterday to a hilarious welcome.
What a challenge that eventful situations of this magnitude can only be lived and retained if a country is peaceful and stable!