A fulfilled promise indeed!

EDITORIAL 19 Aug 2020
A fulfilled promise indeed!

On Thursday, August 6, 2020, the Head of state fulfilled the promise he made about 30 years ago to members of the national team, which represented Cameroon at the 1990 World Cup Tournament in Italy. The promise was in appreciation of the marvelous performance of the team which surprised the world. If nothing else, lovers of football throughout the African continent basked under the sunshine of a glorious moment, when for the first time, an African representative at the 1990 world cup tournament in Italy, qualified for the Quarter Finals of the competition. It was indeed a pride without doubts, more for Africa.
The continent’s lovers of football will for a long time continue to be reminded that, for the first time in the history of the competition, an African team got that far. Back home, Cameroonians were elated after this spectacular performance by the Indomitable Lions. We can therefore understand how much the Head of State was touched and had no alternative than to illustrate the joy in his heart by offering something symbolic also as an encouragement. The truth is that since that glorious performance of that Group of 22, the sun seems to have been set on our way forward in the game of football. After that tournament the world listened in vain to hear the roaring voices of the lions. Till date Cameroonian football fame is continuously depleting on its course.
Paradoxically, those who had never heard of Cameroon as a nation on the surface of the earth, could, after this event, locate a triangular shape of a piece of land surface called Cameroon, which must be watched in the wider circle of world football. It is pertinent to recall that in the mid-seventies, the then Congo Kinshassa, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, represented Africa at the world cup. Their performance was catastrophic. They bagged 9 goals in just the first round of the competition. The final reward for the Congolese was indeed damaging for the entire African football. They were sent parking with a ban on them never to participate again. Cameroon therefore made their first appearance to repair the damage caused by Congo Kinshassa.
This singular event salvaged the image of African football. It should be recalled that it was after this performance by the Indomitable Lions, that African football gained its recognition by the world football governing body and the number of teams from Africa into the competitions was increased to five, to include countries like Nigeria, the Ivory Coast etc. All what we have said, is simply to justify the appreciation of that singular performance of the Lions by every football lover, both at home and in the world at large. But the taunting question which probably the same spectators who had expected so much from the Lions after their 1990 Italy outing is: What has gone wrong with our football? Where have those who manage our football buried the 1990 spirit of football?
However, having said all this, we cannot throw away the old adage that “Better late than never.” That the president has fulfilled his promise goes well with this adage. It has not been a broken promise after all. But the reason advanced for this delay in fulfilling this promise is what worries us, that the delay was caused by the then minister of sports and physical education who is alleged to have tampered with the original list of 22 members of the squad to 44.
If it is true that this is what happened, it certainly does not come to us as a surprise. It usually does happen in our management strategies. Otherwise it is known that the official number of members of the squad is 22, usually called to participate. Why then should the minister, single handedly decide to include an additional 22 names in the list, in which case the officials found themselves unable to handle such a huge number? Who actually were the extra 22 additional names? It only becomes a matter of everyone’s guess what this readjustment of the minister’s mind set concerning the extra names was intended for.
If however, at the end of the day, the offers by the Head of Sate have been designated to the original 22 members of the squad as it should be, we can only say it is well. Under the present circumstances, we feel justified to give credits to the president of the association of former players of the national team, Bertin Ebwelle, whose letter to the head of state, on the occasion of the 30thanniversary of the Italia “90” Tournament, reminded him of his unfulfilled promise. Our regret is that this is happening at the time when the body of the man who led this team to Italia, “90” as captain, Stephen Tataw, is still at a Yaounde mortuary awaiting burial, Benjamin Massing and Louis Paul Nfede, are also no more to benefit from their hard work for the pride of the nation. May their souls rest in peace.

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