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Lioness Canadian Campaign; Time to Rethink

Gaille Enganamout

Gaille Enganamout

The Indomitable Lioness of Cameroon finally touched down on our national territory on Wednesday June 23 after their heroic sojourn in Canada where they took part the 8th FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015.

It was their first participation in the global show piece, the only time the ladies national squad ever participated in a tournament like this was in the 2012 London Olympic Games where they won no game and scored one goal and returned home with a staggering huge goal deficit.

But this was not to be the case in 2015, Enow Ngachu the team coach had learned his lessons from that first international experience, beside he has been with the team as head coach since 2005. If Cameroon has been trying to find its feet on the African continent where they remain behind the shadows of the Super Falcons of Nigeria that has stood on their part to a continental trophy twice, they seemed to have found another way to out shown them.

While the Super Falcons found no landing place in Canada and could only perch on the Swedish branch, they had to fly back to Africa with only a point, evaporating the hopes and aspiration of the entire continent. But quite unexpected was the performance of the Lioness who failed to beat this same Nigerian team in the finals of the African women’s championship in Namibia, but where ready to fly the flag of the continent even without the falcons.

They roared and roared they did, opening their tournament with an emphatic 6-0 win over Ecuador, and  when they come faced with the world champions, Japan, they rose to the challenge though losing by 1-2, and this performance spurred them up to a 2-1 victory over Switzerland, the first time an African team has overcome European opposition. The 1999 vice world champion, China, proved an obstacle too high for them to surmount and they finally bowed out from the tournament at the last 16, with head high up. Their report card showed four games played, two won and two defeats, nine goals scored and 4 conceded. Six out of 12 points with a plus five goal advantage is quite a feat for a debutant in an unforgiving tournament as the world cup. The case of Cote D’Ivore  that were hammered 10-1 by Germany only helps tell you what these where able to achieve.

The Lioness’ road to Canada was not as smooth as their path back home; they had to postpone thrice, their departure from Cameroon and finally took off for Edmonton from Douala instead from the Nsimalend international Airport their initial departure point. These girls had to hold a sit down strike before their match bonuses were paid after they emerged second in Namibia and at the same time won their ticket for Canada.

They come back home still to be certain whether the 21.5 million frs promised by the football authorities will be given them. Riding in the Lions bus from the airport and taking up residence at the Mount Febe seems to be an intelligent move to calm them down while uplifting their spirit, a move which would have serve more purpose before the tournament, maybe Cameroonians enjoy to “put the cart before the horse”

The Lioness performance in Canada also highlights some of the disparity in the treatment of men’s and women’s football in the country. The national feminine football league barely exists, with matches postponed indefinitely at times, teams declared general forfeiture, matches relegated to back yard playgrounds and attendance disappointing.

The one man or company that has stood by the Lioness is Bocom Petroleum, which dished out 23 million to the Lioness in the World cup and 5 million after the nations cup when Fecafoot officials were still contemplating what to do with the girls. No one has ever talked about qualification bonuses for the ladies but come to think that each of the players for the 2014 world cup in Brazil received 5 million Frs. cfa each for every match played in the build up to the tournament, with some pocketing home 35 million for the qualifiers alone.

When you look at all this, Cameroon can be clearly said to be benefitting from the “spontaneous Generation” one that sprout from the natural reservoir of talent that this country is endowed with. A better preparation and professionalism would go a long way to bring better results but with money always associated with such competition, it may not be long before the gold diggers step in, in the name of football administrators and then our “soap opera” series kicks off with FECAFOOT and the Ministry of Sports and Physical Education taking turns to point accusing fingers. And then the mentality of the Lions takes hold too. It's now time for us to rethink our method, approach and future.

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