By Basil Afoni
It is already nine years since these two African best confronted each other in the most prestigious football tourney in Barca.
In their first meeting on February 23, 2005 at the Nou Camp, Eto’o gave his side victory over Drogba and Mourinho’s Chelsea.
Sunday, February 23, made it ninth anniversary of the first time Jose Mourinho, Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o all crossed swords on a football pitch.
However, this time , it will be Eto’o and Mourinho against Drogba in Wednesday’s Champions League tie in Istanbul, when Galatasaray host Chelsea in a match which will once again feature these three icons of the last decade.
The trio have had a successful time these nine years with a total of 42 trophies. The fact that the two the greatest in the African continent, Eto’o and Drogba naturally have a personal history away from Mourinho.
Both strikers are none to score big goal against each other, for Ivory Coast and Cameroon respectively, but Eto’o’s goal against Drogba’s Chelsea in their 2005 meeting had a titanic importance like none between the two.
Drogba’s penalty after extra-time 1-1 at the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final, where 22 consecutive successful penalties, begun in sequence with 1-0 via Eto’o and 1-1 thanks to Drogba. Come the 23rd penalty and Eto’o misses with Drogba scoring.
It should be noted that between 2004-2012, Drogba made 337 competitive appearances for Chelsea, scoring 155 goals, just shy of a goal every other game. In 2009-10 he scored 37 times in 43 matches at a rate of nearly nine goals per 10 games.
Since he departed, initially for an ill-fated spell in Shanghai before moving to Turkey in January last year, Chelsea has struggled to find a consistent replacement who can guarantee goals in all competitions.
According to African football legend, George Weah, ‘They’ve got different qualities. Eto’o is a roaming player, more technical, more skilful than Drogba. He loves to participate and be [available for his team-mates] in the wider game. Eto’o is the trickier player.’
Adding spice to this week’s clash is the fact that Chelsea now have Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o in their attack, another star of Africa and multiple African Footballer of the Year.
But Weah believes Drogba’s single-mindedness sets him apart, implying that a selfish streak has been positive for his clubs and country.
“Drogba is known for his athleticism, and has splendid technique. He’s mobile and focused,’ he said. “And the master of his own zone.”
Mourinho has had to endure what he regards as an unnatural suspension of the strong friendship between manager and player before.
He explained: ‘I played him when I was at Inter and he was at Chelsea. And when I was at Real Madrid and he was at Galatasaray. It’s a strange feeling. But we know him well.’
Chelsea will take on Turkish giants FC Galatasaray on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 in Istanbul.