By Angu Lesley
Football Writer kick442.com-Cameroon
The football fraternity of the South West region of Cameroon is hanging its head in shame and bewilderment. Distasteful scenes keep popping up within the 2020-2021 football campaign, tarnishing their image and backpedalling the work being put in to bounce back on the elite football turf.
For the first time in the club’s history, the president of amateur side Victoria United FC ordered the arrest and detention of four technical staff for vehemently refusing to be part of a scheme to trade off victory in favour of his “business partner’s” club.
The incident, described by commentators as a perfect Hollywood script, took place on Monday 24 May in Limbe. That was 24 hours after Victoria United FC, affectionately called Opopo, defeated sister club Options Sports Academy two-nil in a highly contested match.
Opopo might have won on the pitch, but the game seems far from over off the pitch. After that significant victory in the ongoing regional football championship, Opopo media officer, Aka Ntui Ayamba, team manager, Defang Nelson, lead trainer Njuku Barnabas and former president Michael Mbathi got whisked off by elements of the National Gendarmerie, as they supervised training at the Community field. They were being disgracefully chastised for “disobeying” their boss’ instruction [to yield forcefully to match-fixing].
Club president Nkwain Valentine who led the forces of law and order to the team’s training ground reportedly seized training equipment including the jerseys his players trained with.
Bundling a select technical staff was going to be difficult for gendarmes as fans resisted, before conditionally accompanying their club’s technical staff to the brigade. They were all released hours later, after filing in personal accounts vis-à-vis the disgraceful act.
This latest episode in a series of recent scandals in the region, holds that, prior to the nerve-racking match-day, Opopo president, Nkwain Valentine and his Option Sports counterpart, Neba Henry, struck an agreement which was to see the latter assure their opponents victory at the cost of 1m Fcfa.
Opopo Media Officer Aka Ntui Ayamba revealed via the WhatsApp messaging app that “we were just watching the game but never knew what was transpiring in the background.”
“The team manager, Defang Nelson came this morning and told me the president was so furious because Victoria United didn’t let Options win,” continued the sport reporter.
“The team manager told us this morning [Monday, May 24] that he had the money from president Nkwain but could not do [the dirty job] because Victoria United FC is a municipal team…the coach Njuku Barnabas also refused to collect the money. So he kept the money. Without any knowledge of all the arrangements, players went on to win the game,” Aka.
On Tuesday, coach Njuku declined commenting on the issue when kick442.com contacted him.
Earlier on, through the region’s official football WhatsApp forum, Njuku said “…we are just from a peaceful meeting at the president’s residence and all is well.”
“And also to thank you all especially the fans of Victoria United for your kind interventions. We are stronger than ever before…,” Njuku added.
It is not clear what the terms of the truce are. The non-inclusion of the region’s football ruling body also sends strong signals of uncertainties. At the time of this report, no official statement had been published by the peace-making parties but the question is what kind of peaceful meeting brought together officials of the same two clubs related to this allegation given that only officials of Victoria United FC went to the police station especially with the controversy in the air?
In viral videos, fans can been heard condemning the president’s act, describing it as scandalous, shameful and disrespectful to the club, its values, history, and the people of Limbe in general. For originating this spectacle of shame, the current executive president has shot himself in the leg.
Ultra-fans of Opopo have gone as far as asking Nkwain Valentine out. A solidarity fund is reportedly open in a bid to purchase new equipment and drag their club from the pit of shame at least, before the next playing day.
All eyes are on the Cameroon football federation (Fecafoot), both at national and regional level, for appropriate actions and sanctions. Match-fixing, among other ills like the molestation of referees, is rearing its ugly head in the region. Anything less will indirectly make a bad situation worse; which is something the region’s football lovers will never bargain for.
The South West region has been starving from professional football since Njalla Quan Sports Academy bowed out of Elite Two five years ago.
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