Cameroon meltdown was unimpressive but context is all important | Njie Enow

The Cameroon players lost their cool against England but they have been brought up on tales of injustice from Italia 90 and were desperate to win

It was the summer of 1990 and the worlds best football nations had been battling for supremacy in Italy but a hitherto unknown central African state, Cameroon, had stolen the headlines.

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Jingoism was at its peak in the nation that was only appearing in the World Cup for the second time. The Indomitable Lions, as the Cameroon team are known, had become the first African side to reach the quarter-finals before losing to England in Naples in the unlikeliest of manners.

A penalty from Gary Lineker in the 83rd minute levelled the game at 2-2 and another spot-kick from Lineker in extra time earned England a 3-2 win. The general consensus in Cameroon and the rest of Africa was that the Mexican referee, Edgardo Codesal, favoured the English.

Some of the players in the Cameroon team that lost to England in the Womens World Cup in controversial circumstances on Sunday were not even born then, but the tale from Italia 90 has been passed down to the current crop of Cameroonians. And while some fans are understandably unimpressed by the Indomitable Lionesses decorum and unsportsmanlike behaviour, it is crucial to understand the context in which the coach, Alain Djeumfa, and his side were facing England.

Cameroons meltdown was the most glaring sign of desperation from a generation of players that have pulled up trees and risked everything in an attempt to shift the attitude towards womens football in the country.

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The state of the sport in Cameroon is a complete shambles and despite having made significant progress by hosting the 2016 Africa Womens Cup of Nations, the games running leaves a lot to be desired. The domestic league has been stopped on several occasions because of a lack of finances and the players barely have any medical insurance to cover injuries. There is also still a stigma attached to the sport in that it is supposedly on the womens side being played by school dropouts and delinquents.

Obviously no one in Cameroon is condoning the atrocious spitting or the late tackle on Steph Houghton, but is it so hard to understand that these players were distraught at the thought of their dream slipping away when they have worked so hard to get to where they are?

Alexandra
Alexandra Takounda leaves her mark on the England captain Steph Houghton late into the game. Photograph: Kunjan Malde for The FA/Rex/Shutterstock

For Cameroons star forward Nchout Njoya Ajara and her teammates, a World Cup quarter-final and a win against England would have sparked a change in the perception and narrative around womens football for ever. This is something fans back in Cameroon understand. They have been won over by spirited performances in recent tournaments and this partly explains the fury in the country about the VAR decisions in the game against England in Valenciennes.

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The Lionesses diehards feel their team has been robbed, denied a chance of shocking England, the team ranked third in the world. There is a strong feeling that the four-times finalists of the Africa Cup of Nations would have been better without VAR being implemented and their first ever captain, Regine Mvoue, is one of them.

Perhaps you could say that the referee was very hard on us, the 54-year-old said. There were some decisions that could have gone Cameroons way. The [Augustine] Ejangue pass to the goalkeeper that resulted in a free-kick in the build up to the first goal wasnt deliberate in my opinion. And Ajaras goal that was ruled offside could have changed the game completely.

Later on the girls felt frustrated knowing they could beat England if everything had gone to plan. They panicked and faltered the rest of the game. We have to rethink our development policies for womens football and make sure things are better in the future.

Cameroonians are divided over the issue, though, and there are those who say that the team simply lacked the composure and grit to find a way into the final eight of the tournament. It is a football-mad country and the press was divided too. The leading government daily, Cameroon Tribune, topped its report of the game Cameroon defeated 3-0 by England in a game headlined by VAR decisions, and the piece focused on all the refereeing controversies.

The French-language Le Jour had The frustration of the Lionesses on its cover, then another write-up detailing the damaging impact of VAR on Cameroons fortunes. Just for context of how the womens game is treated, it is worth noting that the countrys leading English-language newspaper, The Guardian Post, ignored Cameroons elimination completely and did not mention a word about it in Mondays publication.

It will take some time before this loss has sunk in and while this will obviously be another tale to be told to future generations, it is also a wake-up call to the Cameroon authorities to start treating the womens game seriously and give the players the support they deserve.

Njie Enow works for Cameroon Radio Television

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Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

This post was curated & Posted using : RealSpecific

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