By Basil K. Mbuye
Barely two weeks after taking over the FECAFOOT presidency Sidiki Tombi à Roko and his team have begun the reconstruction of the Cameroon football body.
Mr. Tombi à Roko became president of the Cameroon FA after replacing the Chairman of the Normalization Committee, Prof. Joseph Owona, following elections on September 28. The Normalization Committee was set-up more than two years ago after the annulment of FECAFOOT elections, following serious disagreements among the Cameroon football body, Cameroonian authorities and FIFA.
The first decision taken by the new FECAFOOT president was the suspension of the General Coordinator of the National Football Teams, Pierre Claver Oyono Afane. According to information we garnered, Oyono was suspended till further notice while an ad hoc committee that includes Charles Nguini and Antoine Essomba Eyenga audits Oyono’s time in office. Meanwhile, Oyono will be replaced by his assistant Sarah Ntui Ashu Nkongho who will act as interim during this period.
In order to rebuild the sour relationship that has existed in the past between FECAFOOT and the Ministry of Sports and Physical Education, Tombi and his team made a brief courtesy visit to Ishmael Bidoung Mkpatt shortly after he was appointed Minister of Sports and Physical Education. During the installation of Bidoung Mkpatt, Tombi à Roko and his team again paid the minister another visit. Visits like this will help create a strong bond that has been missing between these two institutions for quite some time.
On October 5, Tombi à Roko met with Hamad Kalkaba Malboum, president of the esteemed National Olympic and Sports Committee of Cameroon (CNOSC) and signed the institution’s Golden Book, making the Cameroon football body a member of the CNOSC. Speaking during the visit, Tombi à Roko pledged his loyalty to the umbrella sports organisation.
“It’s a new day dawning in the Cameroonian sports movement. In our project, we are committed to working with the administrative authorities and CNOSC. We are a federation under the Olympic Committee. It is therefore clear that we will respect all decisions taken by the Olympic Committee,” Tombi à Roko said.
For his part, Kalkaba Malboum reaffirmed the commitment of CNOSC to support FECAFOOT in its efforts to restore peace within its ranks, revive football in Cameroon and restore its reputation.
Meanwhile, on October 9, Tombi à Roko signed a decision appointing new coaches to manage the various teams of the Indomitable Lions. For Lions A (consisting of only local players), Martin Mpillé Ntoungou was named head coach to replace Bonaventure Djonkep, who was promoted to the senior Indomitable Lions team. Ernest Agbor took over from François Heya, who was fired as assistant
coach of Lions A. At the Under 17 level, Richard Towa took over from Pierre Njilli as the head coach.
However, there are still enormous and complex challenges facing the new FECAFOOT leadership. A major challenge for Tombi à Roko is the task of reconciliation. He has to reconcile former players and former executives who have all served – and still serving – the country in football. Prominent among them are Abdouraman Hamadou, Joseph Antoine Bell, Francis Mveng, Eugène Ekeke, Nkou Mvondo and Jules Frédéric Nyongha.
Also, the problem of football infrastructure will need to be tackled head on. Tombi à Roko is not oblivious to this problem and has already pledged concrete steps. He has, for instance, announced that up to seven stadia with natural grass will be either constructed or upgraded in the towns and cities of Ngaoundere, Kribi, Bafia, Bafang, Ngoumou, Sangmélima and Bamenda by 2018. He also promised a 3-star hotel for the national team at Odza.
The FECAFOOT president will equally have a major responsibility of ensuring the successful organization of the 2016 African Women’s Championship and Men’s African Nations Cup in 2019.
At the level of youth and women’s football, he will have to lay more emphasis on these areas which have been neglected in recent years. Also, grassroots football will need to be promoted in order to ensure that talents are identified early.
A perennial problem plaguing Cameroon football is match bonuses to players and team staff. Seasoned analysts have attributed Cameroon’s lacklustre performances in many competitions to the failure of the country’s authorities to expeditiously pay promised match bonuses to the players and staff of the national teams. This problem has equally tarnished the image of Cameroon. Although both the government and FECAFOOT are responsible for this problem, analysts believe a committed FECAFOOT president will succeed to find solutions to it.