By Rene Katche
Gabon remain the only Nation in Central Africa that have always been a bone to Cameroon’s throat. The Gabonese have broken the collective heart of Cameroon several times, especially when it matters most. So, I was going through some of my jealously kept scripts offered me by the legendary Uncle Zacks. Then I discovered some hard facts and figures between Gabon and Cameroon.
Cameroon will hardly forgive Gabon for becoming the second Nation to have ever “disvirgined” their football slaughter house, the Amadou Ahidjo stadium.
We are on the 8th of December, 1988. It is the UDEAC cup final in Yaounde between Cameroon and Gabon. A maiden final between two foreign coaches; Valeriy Nepomnyashchy of Cameroon and Alain da Costa Soares of Gabon.
Gabon are marshalled by a certain Pierre Aubam Yaya(father of Pierre Emerick Aubameyang).
The Gabonese contingent comprises; goalkeeper Mendomo Germain.
Defenders: Pierre Yaya Aubam(c), Amégasse, François.
Midfielders: Kassa Ngoma, Etienne, Ondo and Vallery.
Attackers: Manon and Regis both from Tours FC in France are on the flanks, and Guy-Roger Nzamba on the sharp point of Gabon’s attack.
The Gabonese gave Jules Dennis Onana and his team mates a very hard time in Yaounde, with swift inter positional passes and deadly runs.
Marks man Guy Roger Nzamba shuttles with the Cameroon defense from one end to the other.
A sterile Bonaventure Djonkep is under lock and key in midfield. Aubam Yaya stifles the Cameroon attack to muscle breaking points.
And then the worst happened! Jules Denis Onana has the ball and wants to make a 360 degree turn, but slides and loses the ball to Nzamba aka Aguekizo. The two make a 30 metres run but the Gabonese is faster. Gabon breaks the deadlock through Guy Roger Nzamba and holds on to the one goal lead tight to win the contest in front of thousands of Cameroonian supporters led by the President, Paul Biya. Then the long striding blast of the final whistle! Cameroon, current African champions are beaten in their most secrete football theatre house, Mfandena. The “enemy” is a next door neighbour.
My scripts reveal that Jules Denis Onana and his team mates refused to take supper that evening. The Cameroonian players use their green red yellow jerseys to cover their faces amid tension, frustration and total distraught. At the other end, there is a sharp contrast as Aubam Yaya and his team mates celebrate their first ever victory over the soccer bully Cameroon. A public holiday is declared in Gabon by president Omar Bongo Ondimba.
Mind you, until now(1988), Cameroon had won 3 UDEAC cups already(1984, 1986 and 1987).
Before the 1988 final, Gabon had sent a strong warning signal to Cameroon when they forced the Indomitable lions to a 0-0 draw in the group stages of the tournament. Gabon had also beaten Congo Rep. 3-0 to win the 1985 edition. So the lions had no reason for complacency! Of course, Cameroon were present in that tournament.
THE PUNITIVE LIBREVILLE EXPEDITION
So after “manquéing” Cameroon respect in the 1988 UDEAC Cup final, the Cameroonians all vowed to take their revenge over the Gabonese. 6 weeks later, the opportunity presented itself. We are on the 22nd of January, 1989. It is the first leg qualifiers to the 1990 World Cup.
Cameroon call for reinforcement with François Omam Biyick from Stade La Valois in France, André Kana Biyick on break in the country and Mbouh Mbouh Emile from Le Havre in France.
From Yaounde, Omam Biyick and his team mates send a “special message” to the Gabonese; “We’re coming to rip you apart”.
Gabon were still being captained by Aubameyang’s father, Yaya. In Libreville, the Lions played with tonnes of “anger”. They mercilessly suffocated the Gabonese and eventually thrashed them 3-1.
Bonaventure Djonkep was the star of the night with his impeccable dribbling quality and composure in midfield. He assisted in the goals that came courtesy of Omam Biyick, Kana Biyick and Mbouh Mbouh Emile.
The Cameroonians had successfully taken their revenge in Gabon.
CLEANSING THE AMADOU AHIDJO STADIUM
On 13 August, 1989, Cameroon again spank Gabon 2-1 to cleanse the Amadou Ahidjo stadium. It was the return leg of the 1990 World Cup qualifier. After that match, the players all vowed no team would ever beat the lions again in the stadium. And so it has been.
But since 1988, Gabon have beaten Cameroon again twice and have forced the Indomitable Lions to several draws.
On January 13, 2010, Gabon captained by Daniel Cousin defeated Cameroon in the AFCON in Angola.
And on August 10, 2013, Gabon edged Cameroon 2-1 in the CHAN tournament.
The Gabonese almost eliminated the Cameroonians from the group stages of the 2017 AFCON in Gabon if not of a reflex save from Fabrice Ondoa that bailed Cameroon from jail. We are on the 22nd of January, 2017.
Denise Athanase Bouanga’s last minute effort was parried away by Ondoa. That action inspired a Cameroonian musician as he sang; “Ondoa tu es bon”.
Never take Gabon for granted!