By Angu Lesley
Football Writer, kick442.com-Cameroon
The goal of many clubs and players on the African continent has always been to represent their country in the CAF inter-club competitions.
The story is not any different for Cameroonian clubs and their players. Unfortunately, the last forty years have been nothing short of forty years in the wilderness for clubs from the great football nation.
Since Union Sportive of Douala backed home the 1981 CAF ‘cup winners cup’ things have not gone the way of Cameroonians.The 1981 success came just a year after Canon Yaounde had claimed the ‘African cup of Champions’ trophy from them.
Many years down the line, Cameroonian names of successful clubs in CAF club competitions remains Oryx Douala[first Cameroonian champions in 1965],Tonerre Kalara Club, Union Sportive of Douala and Canon Yaounde.
Cotonsport of Garoua have come close to this gentleman’s club,but on two occasions; in the 2003 CAF Confederation and the 2008 CAF Champions League, the Garoua giants have finished runners-up.
This makes it a forty years wait for a ribbon on the trophy with a Cameroonian flag.
Strange enough, during this period the country’s men’s national football team has been very successful on the continent. The indomitable lions as they are called have won five AFCON titles from seven finals, an Olympic Gold medal, a silver medal in the 2003 FIFA Confederations cup and made seven appearances in the FIFA World Cup.
This success at the level of the national team has probably misguided some success-hungry club presidents who have adopted shallow strategies to bring their clubs to the limelight in the CAF inter-club competitions.
The question is;are these clubs success especially on the domestic front built on a solid foundation with guarantee of sustainability and firepower to go beyond borders?
Past events makes the question an easy one, with the answer being no.
Defunt Sable of Batie, Fovu of Baham, New Stars of Douala,Tiko United, Mount Cameroon of Buea, PWD of Bamenda are on a long list of club’s whose survival has become a thing of the past or a top priority after their engagement in the different CAF competition.
As a matter of fact, this reporter will not win an award for pointing out that all of the above-mentioned clubs have suffered a relegation to inferior championships some suffered extinction just after their last participation in this competitions.
New Stars of Douala is a great example of recent time as the club was relegated from the top flight championship in Cameroon in the same 2018 season they were just a goal away from booking a ticket into the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup.
PWD of Bamenda is another example, the club hit the headlines in the 2003 season when they inflicted a one nil defeat on Congolese giants TP Mazembe in a CAF Champions League game in Douala but strange enough they were relegated in the same season.
The fate of these clubs and the struggling situation of the likes of Eding Sport de la Lekie, UMS of Loum and Stade Renard of Melong creates many questions about the readiness of Cameroonian clubs for this continental competitions.
So why engage in the competition if the clubs are not ready?
This season, Stade Renard of Melong nearly failed to travel to DR Congo because of lack of funds to purchase air tickets. It took the intervention of the Cameroon football Fédération for their Confederation cup game against DC Motema Pembe postponed for 24 hours. The club finally traveled for the game with 16 players. They arrived Congo on match-day for another routine defeat and eventual elimination in the return game on home soil.
Despite all these examples and the multiple challenges largely created by the club’s low financial base, most if not all Cameroonian clubs still have the desire to enter these competitions.
Their propensity to participate is largely motivated by the huge financial support clubs get from CAF when they enter the group stage of this competition.
Unfortunately inadequate preparations, insufficient finances and players administrative problems amongst other reasons have amounted to elimination of all Cameroon club’s before the group stage of the interclub competition in every season since Cotonsport lastly entered the group stage and lost all six games in 2017.
This season PWD of Bamenda, Cotonsport of Garoua, Colombe of Dja, Bamboutos of Mbouda or maybe Feutcheu FC Djiko are running a rat race for the single champions league ticket.
Will this year’s champions produce better results in continental competitions? Only time can answer this question. But for sure, there has not been any difference between the attitude of clubs now and in the last decade or more of failure.
Without making it to the group stage of the competitions,participants from Cameroon in this competition will always walk away after elimination feeling their blessings came at the expense of the going concern of their clubs.
Club officials and players plus federation officials must improve on every aspect if they ever have to take Cameroon back to the top of club football on the continent.
Maybe the coming of the 2020 CAF Champions League final to the Central African nation this May serve as a kicker for actors who must go back to the methods that once made Cameroonian clubs great.
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