Ivorians wish they never angered Cameroonians. It’s too late
Cameroonian fans jettisoned team Ivory Coast when the Elephants needed much more support than what home fans provided during their resounding victory (3-1) over Algeria in Douala a week ago.
Ahead of Ivory Coast versus Egypt in Japoma Wednesday, hundreds of Cameroonians threw their weight behind Egypt. A calculated retaliation after Ivorian citizens joined in criticising Cameroonian authorities on social media over Afcon organisational loopholes and team Comoros’ misfortunes.
The beef was born of proceedings around the Last 16 clash between Comoros Islands and the Indomitable Lions, played on Monday 24 January 2022.
It started when a COVID-19 outbreak – which would later be doubted – hit Comoros 24 hours to the encounter. For testing positive for the coronavirus, Caf doctors disqualified 12 Comorians from the highly contested fixture with the hosts.
Goalkeepers Moyadh Ousseini and Ali Ahamada were among those who tested positive and had to go into isolation. Les Coelacantes’ only other goalkeeper Ben Boina nursed an injury.
This didn’t go down well with Ivorians, sympathetic Algerians, Congolese and nationals of other countries. They eventually took to social media to charge Cameroonian authorities with manipulation.
Their anger tripled when Ali Ahamada – who returned a negative test on the eve –wasn’t allowed to play against the Indomitable Lions.
They fumed at Samuel Eto’o for jumping from his sit to celebrate Cameroon’s first goal against Comoros at the Olembe stadium.
“It is sad that Samuel Eto’o, elected president of Fecafoot to put back football at the centre of preoccupations, could not ask Caf to allow Comoros pursue their course with a trained goalkeeper,” said French journalist Patrick Juilliard.
Ivoirians called Samuel Eto’o and his country “cheats”.
“Shameful to Africa to have such cheats as organisers, their president Samuel Eto’o worse hypocrite than the pope. I feel ashamed.”
“I will be happy to see Cameroon eliminated in the days ahead because they are winning in illegality.”
“God bless Comorians. They won my heart.”
The messages and their writers abounded.
Incensed by Comoros’ elimination, these persons criticised the Local Organising Committee of the competition. The Japoma stadium turf saga, lodging concerns here and there and the deadly Olembe stadium stampede became the ingredients of their bashings.
“Cheating is not part of Cameroonians’ DNA. It will never exist and especially not under my mandate,” Samuel Eto’o fired back.
Caf clears the air
“You remember during CHAN there were some controversies with some teams regarding some tests that were conducted by some laboratories in Cameroon,” recalled Confederation Secretary Veron Mosengo-Omba at a press conference on Tuesday in Yaounde.
“This time,” Mosengo-Omba continued, “to avoid those problems and suspicions toward local laboratories, we decided to contract an independent laboratory – UNILABS, reliable with experience no longer to be demonstrated.”
“It was responsible for conducting tests during the EURO, Fifa Arab Cup. That is the lab that came here with its own equipment, conducting tests for players, staff and officials.”
About goalkeeper Ali Ahamada who returned a negative COVID-test but couldn’t play, Mosengo-Omba explained that “the medical commission decided to readjust COVID regulation. Once tested positive for COVID, after five days of isolation, if you test negative, a cardiovascular test will be run. That is the only adjustment.”
“The important thing is the cardiovascular test because we can’t allow players to just return to the pitch and after that suffer problems,” he added.
Gabonese duo Mario Lemina and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang missed their group game against Ghana for similar reasons.
Ivory Coast versus Egypt played out more fiercely off the pitch. Ivorian and Cameroonian fans were at daggers drawn before and during the cracker. Cameroonians declared the Elephants “outcasts” and threw their weights behind Mohamed Salah and his countrymen.
Rocket science is not needed to establish how useful supporters are to a football match, talk less of crackers like yesterday’s between Ivory Coast and Egypt on neutral ground.
For annoying them, Cameroonians decamped and launched a viral campaign against Ivory Coast. Some changed Twitter names to Egyptian names, featured the Egyptian flag and other symbols in a dramatic show of solidarity.
Marious Santos nicknamed himself “Marious Moustapha”, Rebecca Enonchong made “Cleopatra” her middle name, Vanolyv added “Salah” to his username while Njie Enow Ebai became “Njie Hosam Razz”.
A flier which read “This evening, all behind Pharaohs against Traitors” trended hours to the encounter.
In a viral video, about 20 Cameroonians could be seen assembled in a hall. Assisted by a pianist, they rehearsed the Egyptian anthem, their right hands on their chests.
“I’ve begun learning Egypt’s national anthem ‘My homeland, you have my love and my heart’. A little more effort and by tomorrow midday [Wednesday], I’ll be able to belt out a beautiful rendition of this very wonderful anthem,” Njie Hosam Razz tweeted.
“In football,” Blaise Eyong wrote, “there are no permanent enemies or friends. We are not supporting our in-laws today [Wednesday] because they were bashing us a few days ago.”
Eyong referred to team Ivory Coast as in-laws because the legendary Samuel Eto’o is married to an Ivorian, Georgette Eto’o.
Behold, Patrice Baumelle’s side lost 4-5 on post-match penalties. They now wish they never angered Cameroonians. But it’s too late.