It is fair to say that no one expected the Intermediate Lions to go this far in the competition judging from their below par preparatory games.
With a glimmer of hope, Cameroonians however expected that the home advantage was going to be primordial in the Lions showing resilience against established teams, which fortunately was the case.
However, Cameroon’s problem as they got humiliated by Morocco is far from sporting. The Lions were riding on a thread of luck and were bound to crumble at one point in time.
The victory over the Democratic Republic of Congo made multitudes to forget about unusual stories that went on behind the curtains. There have been no clear answers to the story of a witchdoctor being at the helm of choosing the squad list for the Burkina Faso game.
What happened to supposed captain of the selection Jacques Zoua? For all we know, the injury which was accorded to him might have been false. After missing the Burkina Faso game, coach Ndtoungou Mpile insisted the captain was well and would be ready to face DR Congo in the Quarter Finals.
He however made the bench but never came on. Same thing when Cameroon was about to take on Morocco, it was again said Jacques Zoua was going to feature, but no! despite Cameroon’s lack of inspiration, needing a more experienced leg on the field, Jacque Zoua still helplessly watched from the sidelines. The case of Jacques Zoua alone is a big indication that the coach merely acted as a figurehead in the tournament.
Were there administrative orders from above? No one really knows.
Away from the Jacques Zoua dilemma, many had hoped that the Intermediate Lions could replicate the miracle that was done by the senior team in 2017 AFCON in Gabon. By psychologically killing the Congolese before the game even started with COVID-19 controversy that will be talked of even after the tournament, many did not see the humiliation in Limbe coming at all.
Ancestral incantations by Southwest Chiefs and a church service with the Lions in Limbe counted for nothing when the Atlas Lions of Morocco stamped their supremacy a highly depleted side. Not even Governor Okalia Bilai’s assurance seemed palpable.
Perhaps the ancestors were asleep or didn’t watch the game. The happiest nation might actually be the DRC and not Morocco following the Lions’ exit from the CHAN. The pound of flesh might have been gotten.
It will however be unjust to objectify the Intermediate Lions for their show in Limbe. These players were playing against a well organized team from a country that had a running league and moreover, the reigning champions. With an OK! Participation in the competition despite going close to a whole year without any major league participation, it won’t be absurd to say these boys would have performed better if they were in one.
The usual thing in Cameroon after such disastrous outings tends to be numerous heads rolling. Indeed they should, but should not be from the technical part. This CHAN was a clear indication that sport in Cameroon is still highly being influenced by greedy administrative bottlenecks. Unless this changes, then all we maybe known for is owning beautiful stadiums and Samuel Eto’o in the very near future.