By Angu Lesley
Football Writer, kick442.com-Cameroon
Legendary Cameroonian goalkeeper, Alioum Boukar is arguably Cameroon’s most underrated goalkeeper of all times.
The 48-year-old former Proveyance Yaoundé goalkeeper who manned Cameroon’s goalpost between 1992-2004 was a member of the Golden generation of 2000-2002 of the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon. Alioum was simply magical.
The man who spent most, if not all, of his club career at average clubs in Turkey, was not the most glamorous player in his generation, but one of the most talented and productive.
After the Joseph-Antoine Bell and Thomas Nkono rivalry in the national team was over, fans of the Lions didn’t wait for long for another rivalry to begin.
Cameroon experienced a short transition period trying the like of Vincent Ogandi, Andem Williams amongst others hoping to get the right pair of hands for the country’s goalkeeping future.
Jacques Songo’o, who had been overshadowed by the brilliance of Joseph-Antoine Bell and Thomas Nkono had his chance but standing between the star keeper at Deportivo and his chances of finally being a regular for Cameroon was Alioum Boukar on the eve and in the early phase of the 2000 millennium.
And of course, it was about Cameroon, the only country in Africa where, it doesn’t suffice to be a great goalkeeper in Europe.
Songo’o obviously got the thumbs up after Bell and Nkono had left, and Ogandi and Andem failed to match the Bell or Nkono performance.
It was obviously time for Songo’o to play going by his experience.
Unfortunately, over time talks of the team being less lucky when he plays made the 1997 La Liga winner and goalkeeper of the season lose his place between the sticks to Alioum Boukar.
After a run in the team in 1996, Boukar started the first game of the 2000 African Cup of Nations, AFCON, with Bekono Deniel and Souleymanou Hamidou on the bench.
Though he didn’t keep a clean sheet in the game, his performance in the 1-1 draw against host Ghana was convincing enough. Alioum had taken advantage of his chance, and never looked back.
Songo’o, who had played in Cameroon’s previous two world cup tournaments watched from the screens away from the tournament’s village and surely sent his message of motivation as Alioum instilled confidence in the team.
Two clean sheets against the Ivory Coast and Tunisia plus a penalty save in the final against Nigeria as Cameroon won their first AFCON in 12 years further cemented his place.
From exploring a late qualification opportunity to being African champions, Boukar and his mates came back for the 2002 tournament event even stronger with Jacques Songo’o and Idriss Carlos Kameni in the squad.
Alioum played like a goalkeeper whose life depended on clean sheets, a true Lion.
Cameroon won five and drew one of their games in the tournament in Mali.
It was a goalkeeping masterclass, with an unprecedented six AFCON games for Cameroon without conceding.
With six clean sheets, and saved two penalties in the final, Alioum was at the peak of his powers for Cameroon who won their second AFCON in a row.
That success meant Alioum became the first and only Cameroonian goalkeeper to play every minute and win consecutive AFCON tournaments for Cameroon.
A run 12 clean sheets in 17 games, from after the 2000 AFCON final victory against Nigeria and before the 2-2 draw against England was telling of Alioum’s talent.
In that unprecedented run in the recent time, few could put the ball past the former Canon Yaoundé keeper.
He remains the only Cameroon goalkeeper who has won two AFCON tournaments he featured in a row.
The former Samsunspor goalkeeper retired from international football in 2004 after winning 54 caps for the central African nation.
His epic performance during the penalty shootout against Senegal in the 2002 AFCON final will be remembered as the icing on the cake of an excellent international career. He saved two of Senegal’s penalties in that famous final to help Cameroon beat a great Senegal side by three successful penalties to 2.
Alioum Boukar between 1994-2003 leaves Cameroonians with one thing, assurance.
He also won the All African Games in 1991 with the Intermediate Lions in Cairo, Egypt alongside the likes of Ntoko Roland, Essa Pius, the late Chi Fru Celestine amongst others under the guidance of the great coach Sadi Jean Pierre.
He was a part of the technical staff of the Cameroon team that won the 2017 AFCON tournament in Gabon.
Jacques Songo’o may have three AFCON titles and two for the great Joseph-Antoine Bell or one for great Thomas Nkono but Alioum remains the only starter keeper to win two back-to-back AFCON titles between the sticks.
Ondoa and Onana have a huge chance of achieving this.
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