By Angu Lesley
Football Writer, kick442.com-Cameroon
Former international, Nicolas Alnoudji has revealed revealed Cameroon’s journey to glory in the Sidney 2000 Olympics game wasn’t all rosey.
Speaking in a recent interview with Kick442.com the midfield maestro who got Cameroon’s unprecedented and unique journey to glory revealed that the event remains a memorable one for him, although it was success in difficult circumstances.
Cameroon entered the competition as an unknown quantity, but with a very confident group of players who were fresh from winning the 2000 AFCON title in Nigeria.
37 minutes into the Lions tournament opener against Kuwait, then 20-year-old Nicolas Alnoudji put the Lions on the lead. It wasn’t an easy game, but goals from Patrick Mboma and Lauren Etame gave the Lions all three points in a victory by the odd goal in five.
Despite getting a goal against Kuwait, Alnoudji picked another game as his favorite in the tournament. He explained to the kick442.com team why he keeps memories of the game jealously.
“Yes, I scored the first goal of the Olympic Games against Kuwait, it was an important contribution, but that wasn’t my most memorable game in the competition.
All the games were important. But that famous 1-1 draw game against the United States was special. I pick this game because, it was difficult, and was the turning point of the competition. We went into the game to prevent a defeat, at full time, we did the job.
Draws against the USA and the Cheque Republic set up an interesting quarter-final clash against Brazil.
The erstwhile SC Bastia man reveals that the game against Brazil was what they bargained for.
“We went to watch the match between Japan and Brazil. We were supposed to play against the winner. We told ourselves, ‘It is better to play against Brazil’, we knew it was going to be tougher against Japan. You know the story, we had the Brazil we wanted. Cameroonians know the rest of this story”, Alnoudji stated.
Cameroon eliminated Brazil after extra time, in the famous game, thanks to goals from Patrick Mboma and Modeste M’bami. Ronaldinho got one goal for the South Americans.
The Lions picked up another 2-1 win against Chile in the Semi final. Lauren Etame and Mboma were scorers and that win set up showdown against Spain in the final.
20-years later, Alnoudji told this Pan-African News Agency that, it wasn’t all going well off the pitch.
The 40-year-old one-time Sedan midfielder, picked the final as the example of events in the Lions Den in their time in Sydney.
“The preparations for the final was complicated. Not at the level of the game, but behind the scenes.
Our discussions about bonuses lasted the whole night. Nobody slept, we wanted to know what we will get from a victory. Unfortunately the negotiations with the minister wasn’t easy. In the end, we agreed. We went to the stadium without proper sleep.
At halftime we were been led by 2-0,”Alnoudji recounts.
The Lions were in trouble, but not troubled though it was the first game in which the Cameroon team had such a deficit at half time. They also had the believe in themselves as Alnoudji further explains.
“My brother, and friend Patrice Abanda came to me just before we went to the dressing room. He told me, we will win the match. I asked him if he was sure, he said yes, then I said okay.
We came back for the 2nd half and scored early, Cameroonians know the rest of the story, Nicolas Alnoudji concluded.
Samuel Eto’o’s first goal in the competition leveled matters for the Lions. Cameroon went on to beat a 9-man Spain team with Xavi Hernandez to claim the country’s one and only Olympic Gold medal in football till date.
That Cameroon team went on to defend the 2002 AFCON crown with Alnoudji in the squad.
He formed an important part of the team that went on to claim the Olympic Gold medal in 2000 in Sydney and the 2002 AFCON title in Mali.
Alnoudji won just over 20 caps for the Central African nation but left an indelible mark in the hearts of the thousands of the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon.
These days, the former Rizespor midfielder has returned to his native Garoua for a comfortable life with his family.
He can only be proud of an international career that ended in 2002 especially as he averages a trophy every 10 games for Cameroon.
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