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Lions Exit From AFCON: What Went Wrong 

By Leocadia Bongben

Like in 1996, the Lions were knocked out of the Nations Cup during the first round, though this time with two draws and a loss. The Lions returned home like dogs with their tails between their legs and many have been yearning to know what went wrong. Like in Brazil in 2014, the Lions went to the competition with players who were recovering from injury, like Captain, Stephane Mbia, Nicolas Nkoulou and Oyongo Bitolo. Bitolo got injured during an inter-quarter game and the Coach helped to hide the injury when he declared at a press conference that the player of Red Bulls in the US was fine.

Playing only for about 17 minutes, Enow Eyong, who has not been active in his club, left the field injured, creating a vacuum in the midfield, coupled with the absence of Mbia in the central defence.
Also, there has been little collaboration between the Coach, Volker Finke, and his Cameroonian assistants, Djonkep Bonavanture and Alexandre Belinga. This was noticed during the last match of the Nations Cup where Djonkep and Belinga proposed a list to Finke, which included Njie and the latter ignored it. Finke had, from the start, adopted a style of work with Ibrahim Tanko, sidelining the assistants.

Volker Finke

Claude Bathelomie Mbarga, a Coach in Belgium, like many others, has identified the tactical errors that forced the Lions to quit the competition and criticised Finke for mismanagement of human resources. In his analysis, about 50 percent of Cameroonian players, including Enoh Eyong, are not first choices in their clubs, while there are players in top form in other clubs who have not been included. There are equally speculations that Finke is into a kind of deal with players from a particular manager called Maxim Nana. Many hold that there is no explanation as to why the team should have nine players from the same manager, though Finke refutes claims about a deal, saying he has enough money to get involved in such transactions.

It is almost a similar issue with the featuring of Franck Etoundi, who many fans argued, does not play better than Leonie Kweukeu and Clinton Njie and who contributed little or nothing during the Nations Cup. There are allegations that the captain has a bearing on the coach to feature his brother, Etoundi.

With managerial dysfunctions as seen prior to the departure of the players, where qualifications bonuses agreed on were not ready in time, the result can only be an early exit from the Nations Cup.
One thing is obvious; that the Ministry of Sports and the Cameroon Football Federation are towing the same line of thinking with Cameroonians who believe Finke’s contract should not be renewed.
Finke’s two-year contract is due to expire in March and, given that, there is no competition during this period, except for friendlies, the authorities would take their time and allow the contract to expire.
An indication that the Coach is now a persona non grata may be the fact that, at the Yaounde Nsimalen Airport, supporters hailed some players like Fabrice Ondoua and Clinton Njie and heaped blame for exit from the Nations Cup on Finke.

A supporter even hit the Coach on the head and nobody intervened, the Lions security was quiet and so was police at the airport. Only Ibrahim Tanko, Finke’s assistant, attempted to help his boss who was courageous enough to come back to Cameroon after the poor performance in Equatorial Guinea.
There are indications that the federation will hold a press conference in the days ahead to provide their balance sheet of the Lions participation in the Nations Cup.