The Indomitable Lions seemed to have gone on a long journey of hibernation, but, defeating the Leopards 2-0 at the TP Mazembe Stadium on September 6 putting the team on a temporary lead of Group D, are the lions back? This is the question tickling the minds of many.
Cameroon was absent from two consecutive Nations Cups, 2012 and 2013 coupled with the perilous 2014 World Cup where the team lost all three games, conceded nine goal, a bitter pill for Cameroonians who lost faith in the team.
Many even wondered if the name should be changed from ‘indomitable’ to ‘domitable’, lions.
Lions talisman, Samuel Eto’o was not called for the 2015 Nations Cup qualifiers; the Everton recruit announced his retirement from the national team, his supporters cried out injustice and expected the team to lose so that the presidency would intervene for the four times African player of the year to return.
Against a backdrop of the losing syndrome, going to the game against DR Congo some Cameroonians were certain the Lions were going to be food for the Leopards not knowing what team Finke would produce after Eto’o and 12 others were side-lined.
Cameroon coach Volker Finke ahead of the game explained his choices, saying after the World Cup he had to take a strong decision.
“With 17 players who have participated in two World Cups, I decided to reconstruct the team with players who have a strong mentality, respect for principles and rules of world football which are above the coach, player and country.
“We would normalise things in the team and in lions’ environment. I am optimistic that this work is for a better future. It is not a moment to cry, but to look ahead”.
In his theory of building a new look team, Finke handed four players their first caps for the national team.
One of them Olympic lyonnais youngster, Clinton N’jie whose effort upfront after squandering two chances was rewarded as he fired the opener giving the team the confidence to broke the spell that has been hanging over Cameroon.
Joseph Fabrice Ondoua, FC Barcelone rising star frustrated the efforts of the though sluggish leopards making strategic saves to leave a lasting impression on supporters.
On holiday in the first half, he had a field day in the later part of the game with pressure mounted by the opponents. He was the most competitive of the goalkeepers called to camp coming out of African Youth Championship qualifier with the U-20 lions.
Even if Choupo Moting did not score, he was the match maker and had to dig deep in the midfield to distribute balls upfront.
He worked the second goal from the midfield to Leonard Kweukeu for Aboubakar’s clever finish, dribbling pass Leopards defenders, to curve in at the corner pass goalkeeper Kidiaba for the second goal. The FC Porto recruit has hit the counter with three goals for the national team adding to 17 in club.
Stephane Mbia in his new role as Lions captain though attracting a yellow card early in the game proved to have the Lions spirit and carried along the players and they all sued for a collective onslaught.
But, the midfield painstakingly picked up but there is need for adjustments in the area coupled with the need for cohesion and robotics yet to be achieved in the team.
Many a Cameroonian is of the opinion that the score was good for a start to give the team confidence but not enough if they have to play a stronger side like Ivory Coast.
The youthfulness, solidarity and serenity of the players are hailed as positive aspects to cultivate further for a team that showed pleasure and collective in play.
However, the road is still long as the lions have to convince they are on returning to indomitable ways when they meet the Elephants of Ivory Coast that defeated Sierra Leone-2-1 next Wednesday.