By Beng Emmanuel
Sports Writer, Kick442.com-Cameroon
Former Indomitable Lions coach Hugo Broos has opened up on his experiences with the men’s senior national team of Cameroon which he guided to great effect for over two years.
The Belgian football manager has left an indelible mark and has earned legendary status in Cameroon after becoming the first gaffer in fifteen (15) years to guide the West African Nation to their fifth continental title in 2017.
Hugo Broos was appointed as the lead trainer of Cameroon’s men’s senior national team in February 2016. He took over from Volker Finke who was sacked in October 2015. He was a surprise choice for the job not having featured among the five shortlisted candidates by Fecafoot aiming to succeed the German tactician. However, after consultation with the country’s FA, and the Minister of Sport and Physical Education, Broos was handed a tough job despite public opinion about his competitiveness in the discipline on the continent.
“An agent phoned me to ask if I was interested to become the coach of Cameroon. I sent my cv, a letter of motivation and a plan for the next 2 years. Two months later I had a meeting with the minister of Sport and the chairman of Fecafoot. A few days after that meeting they decided
to take me as the new coach of Cameroon. The reaction in the Cameroonian press was very negative. But two months later they changed their attitude after qualification for Afcon” Broos told Kick442.com in an exclusive interview.
The 68-year-old gaffer was keen on qualifying Cameroon for his first major tournament on the continent despite a litany of complaints from some die heart Lion fans. Barely a few months after his humble beginnings, he rose exponentially as his rough-storied journey which he had possibly anticipated melted into an unforgettable moment.
“I have only good memories of the time I was the coach of Cameroon. Even the beginning was very difficult. But what I received back after we qualified for Afcon 2017 against Mauritania in 2016 from the players and my staff and after winning Afcon, I forgot all the bad experiences, I had”
•Gabon 2017- The rare exploit of Broos’ sublime creativity
When Hugo Broos arrived Cameroon in 2016, only a handful of vaunted old guards were left in the national team. The star-studded generation who played for his predecessors were out of sight while others like Joel Matip were on self-exile. With the African Cup of Nations rapidly approaching, Broos had his back to the wall but was poised to make a convincing tournament even with a novice selection.
He won the continent’s most celebrated trophy and rose to the submit of African football with a group of dedicated players like Collins Fai, Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui, Adolphe Teikeu, Christian Bassogog, Sébastien Siani, Njie Clinton among others who defended national colours with dignity and honour.
“I have never worked with a group of players like in Cameroon. The big
difference was that everyone had the same goal; winning the Afcon.
Every player was ready to make sacrifices, and they were a group of friends like I never saw. Also, my staff, we were one with the players”
Cameroon faced sterner examinations’ en route to the final of the 2017 Nations Cup in Gabon. Despite conceding against Egypt in the final, Hugo Broos with sustainable knowledge of the game rallied his players to a stunning second half. Two intelligent substitutions (Nicolas Nkoulou and Vincent Aboubakar) enabled Cameroon to clinch a fifth title against the Egyptians whom they’ve always had impotent display against.
“I spoke much about the finals they lost between 2004 to 2016. I spoke
about the fact they could write history by winning the Afcon. And I gave them confidence by saying that I really believed that we could win the Afcon when everyone fought for the same goal. After the game against Senegal they really believed what I was telling them before.”
Indeed, Hugo Broos has created history in Cameroon and his name engraved in the country’s football history. He got more than his predecessor by restoring the Lions fortunes. Cameroon becomes the second most successful nation on the continent. The Belgian had just made history.
“Moukandjo told me after winning the Afcon that the big difference with other coaches was that I did what I told them from the beginning; there is only one thing
important it’s the team. I never changed the team because I didn’t
like the player, I changed only to have the strongest team.”
Ten months after winning the Afcon, Hugo Broos was sacked by the Cameroon Football Federation, Fecafoot. The country’s regulatory football body cited an abysmal Confederation cup and failure to qualify for the 2019 FIFA World Cup as reasons. Cameroon missed out in the quadrennial football event for a third time since 1982.
Meanwhile, the former Caretaker manager and Sports director of KV Oostende told the BBC in April 2017 he wanted to stay in Cameroon although he threatened to quit over ‘management and funding problems.” He also distanced himself from rumor linking him with other federations stating he is concentrating with Cameroon. Despite leaving African football, the two-time Belgian champion is hopeful of another spell in Africa.
“I had a few contacts with African countries like South Africa, Ghana, and a few others. But it was never concrete. I was disappointed that I never had the opportunity to work for another country. Maybe in the future, I hope”
Hugo Broos has vast experience as a manager. He has won the Belgian Championship twice with Club Brugge and then again with Anderlecht. He has also enjoyed spells in Greece, Turkey, and Algeria in recent years.
The former Belgian defender is among the few coaches who were able to make an impact during their first stint with an African selection.
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