By Muambo Edward
Football Writer, kick442.com Cameroon
Cameroon went to the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup as African champions, but they were the first of four African ambassadors to be shown the door.
With three defeats in three games and most embarrassingly against Tajikistan, Cameroon was programmed to fail.
Performant players in preparation like Enzo Tchato, Etienne Eto’o and Jordan KONANGO were left out for fear or respect of a presidential degree and the positions of these players turn out to be Cameroon’s Achilles heel at the tournament.
The heart bit of the team failed to come to life. Goalkeeper Ekoi Manfred showed some class but he did not complete the competition.
Mbeubap Bruno deputized for Ekoi and showed why he has always been on the bench to watch Ekoi play.
Central defense leader and captain Fabrice Ndzie was not himself; his pace and commanding presence at the back seem to have missed the flight to Brazil.
Expected midfield driver Steve Mvoue turn out to be a passenger at the tournament. He started all three games but the Cameroon team felt his absence.
Leonel Wamba Djuffo put his reputation in the build up to the tournament in a bin and walked around for three games looking easier to handle for defenders.
François Bere and Ekoi Manfred limped off injured in the second game.
With this three wanting performance and injury cases the rest of the team could not click.
Libiih’s boys look disjointed in some phases of their games with the forward line less frightening for opponents.
The team was also unlucky, they hit the post on four occasions in the first two games.
They scored just one goal from 32 attempts against Tajikistan and Argentina, they never improved on their finishing in the course of the tournament.
It is easy to point a finger at some players but the problem goes way beyond that.
Don’t forget that Libiih Thomas is inexplicably the assistant coach, the head coach maybe should be the Head of State.
Five months after being African Champions, the champions lost their spark partly because of lack of competitive football and some were distracted with potential moves to Europe and others parts of the world for greener pastures.
The coach was still lost on which players to take to Brazil, hoping that someone somewhere will revisit a law that prevents foreign based U-17 players to play for their country even in a World Cup which is a contest reserved for for the best irrespective of where they ply their trade.
No one remembered that locally we did not have a youth championship neither were many players of this age category given a chance in our elite clubs, to back-up the discriminatory law.
Barel Fotso, Etienne Eto’o, Enzo Tchato and the rest were sent packing even if it was obvious that Mr Libiih really counted on them as reinforcements.
Failing to react after defeats in three consecutive international friendlies is another reason for what is a dissatisfactory output.
The FIFA U-17 World Cup is a stage set for young stars to shine, but ours were rather brought to the ground before the world could notice. This assertion does not take nothing away from the bright performances of the likes of Dibongue, Ricky Ngatchou, Ben Hamed Ndongo and Francois Bere.
Six goals conceded, one scored, three defeats in three, life goes on, maybe with lessons learnt or maybe with our old habits were individual interests take precedence over national interest.
Good luck to Senegal who didn’tmmake it out from the group stage in the AFCON in Tanzania, but were only brought to the competition because Guinea were disqualified, Angola and Nigeria as they try to conquer the world for Africa.
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