By Beng Emmanuel
Sports Writer, Kick442.com- Cameroon
Former indomitable Lions midfield anchor, Nicolas Alnoudji says his teammates and himself were poised to clinch their fourth AFCON title despite having an unpleasant departure to Mali during the 2002 African Nations Cup.
The 40-year-old former professional footballer who emerged gold medalist at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sidney was instrumental as his nation to bag home the continent’s most coverted trophy.
He told Kick442.com in an exclusive interview how they were determined to defend their AFCON title although they had an uncomfortable departure to Mali on board a military plane while other nations received first class treatment. The midfield sensation believes it was the genesis of their unbeaten 2002 AFCON success.
“Two years after we were crowned champions of Africa, Yes, we believed we had a very good team and going to Mali was to bring the cup home. We were 23 warriors.
“Let me remind you that we went to Mali with the military plane while the other nations like Ivory Coast for example travelled through a private jet. Besides, to make them laugh we told them that on the return we will come back with their jet because they will return soon while we come back home with the cup” Alnoudji disclosed.
Cameroon had a memorable Nations Cup in 2002, probably one of their best campaigns.They finished the biennial football event unbeaten, scoring nine (9) goals without conceding. The then defending champions finished top of group C with all nine points and sailed to the final after victory over Egypt and host Mali during the quarter and semi finals with relative ease.
Cameroon beat Senegal on penalty kick after a goalless game in Bamako on February 10, 2002.
Patrick Mboma and Salomon Olembé were joint top scorers of the tournament with Nigeria’s Julius Aghahova. The African trio scored three goals each.
Lions skipper, Rigobert Song was named in the team of the tournament. He joined Patrick Mboma as the only two Cameroonians to feature on CAF’s team of the tournament.
Nicolas Alnoudji earned over 20 selections for Cameroon.
Despite a brief stint with the five time African champions, the former Coton Sport of Garoua player improved the quality of the team and remains amongst the players lodged in the iconic bracket of the nation’s football history.
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