By Angu Lesley
Football Writer, kick442.com-Cameroon
Former Indomitable Lions of Cameroon forward Eugene Ekéké has revealed that Cameroon’s first-choice keeper at the successful 1990 FIFA World Cup tournament was selected by the president of Cameroon Paul Biya and communicated to the team.
Speaking in a recent interview with Cameroon-based TV Station, Canal2 International which was closely followed by Kick442.com, the
60-year-old retired footballer who was a part of the 1990 golden generation of Lions revealed that Cameroon’s present president, Paul Biya was very involved in the good performance of the 1990.
The former Paris FC revealed that in a show of interest on football and the national team, president Biya was closer to the team than Cameroonians saw on screen.
Eugene said the president was key in determining who kept goal for Cameroon at the tournament.
“Joseph-Antoine Bell was our first choice keeper throughout the preparations. Everybody knew he was to be the man between the sticks at the beginning of the competition. To be sincere we were surprised that, barely days before the game against Argentina, instructions came from the presidency picking Nkono as the person to keep goal, instead of Bell,” Ekeke stated.
Cameroon had a problem of choice in the goalkeeping department during this period. The country was blessed with two of the best keepers on the continent if not the planet at the time.
President Biya’s proposal to the team wasn’t taken without objection, but common sense prevail as Ekeke further expantiated.
“Though Thomas Nkono was doing well at the time, we didn’t just swallow the decision, there was some sort of resistance. We finally had a meeting and decided to support the option of Nkono as a team’s goalkeeper,” legend Ekeke revealed.
The president obviously made another telling contribution. Thomas Nkono put up an impressive performance in the competition.
Same can be said about Albert Roger Milla who was recalled by the to abandon international football retirement and join the Lions for the tournament. Milla also proved the president right by scoring four goals in the competition.
Though Milla started Cameroon’s first game against Argentina as a substitute, he went on to score four goals.
That tournament cemented Milla’s reputation as one of the best finishers in a FIFA World Cup, interestingly as a veteran.
President Biya’s interest in the team made him a keen follower of the Lions first game from the Stands of the San Siro on June 8, 1990, in the team’s famous triumph against defending World champions Argentina.
Cameroon had a sweet ride in the tournament. The central African nation reached the quarter-finals of the tournament as the first of just three African nations to have achieved that till date.
It is evident that without Nkono and Milla in the team, things could have been different.
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