The Under 23 Lions yesterday gave Cameroonians a reason to momentarily forget about the unfortunate debacle of the Indomitable Lions at the 24th African Cup of Nations in Tunisia. Their 2-0 victory over the Under 23 Elephants of Côte d’Ivoire at the Yaounde Omnisport stadium did not only enable the team to move one step closer to the Summer Olympics in Greece, but brought back smiles to the faces of Cameroonians. The triumph served as a psychological booster to Cameroonian football.
The Cameroonian team that faced the Elephants of Côte d’Ivoire was united and strong. The duo of Marcus Mokake and Daniel Wansi gave steam to the attack line. It was therefore not surprising that Cameroon dominated the encounter. Serious action began in the first minutes of the game. But for the vigilance of Noel Yobou Agbo, the goalkeeper of the Elephants who doubles as the team captain, Cameroon would have driven home the curtain raiser at the 5th minute after Job Iyock broke through the Ivorian defence. His onslaughts were to pay off at the 10th minute when he sent home the first goal for Cameroon. One minute after, Marcus Mokake gained Cameroon another opportunity to increase the goal tally after suffering from a foul play in the goal area of the Elephants. Chadian born referee, Hisseine Ladoua, gave a penalty which Essola Tchamba Paul kicked into the waiting hands of Goalkeeper Yobou. The rest of the first half continued in almost the same manner with the Elephants putting on a brave fight to resist the pressure mounted by the Lions and Cameroon failing to materialise the several scoring opportunities which it created.
The second half started off well for Cameroon with a goal at the 51st minute, a beautiful header from Marcus Mokake. More steam was latter added to the Cameroonian attack line when coach Jean Paul Akono brought in Webo Achille to replace Wansi Daniel who was already running out of breath. Ngal Serge Charles also took the place of Job Iyock Thomas Herve, while Ambane Francis came, four minutes to the end of the mach, to replace Marcus Mokake. The replacements however did not create any great surprises as the final score read 2-0 in favour of Cameroon. Globally, it was a beautiful encounter which kept spectators constantly on their feet. Like any good sports man, the coach of the Elephants accepted the defeat saying Cameroon was the better side. “The lions were technically superior”, he noted. Marcus Mokake, the pillar of Cameroon’s attack said that he was happy with the victory as it increases Cameroon’s chances of qualifying for the Olympics. “I hope I didn’t disappoint Cameroonians”, he said.
Yesterday’s defeat is tantamount to elimination from the race for the Summer Olympics in Greece for the Elephants Côte d’Ivoire. Their last match against the Democratic Republic of Congo will simply be a matter of formality. As expected, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Bidoung Mkpatt, was besides the Under 23 Lions yesterday evening to pay their dues and above all extend government’s encouragement for the brilliant performance.
Although Cameroon is still heading Group B with 10 points, the stakes of their last encounter against Mali are very high as Mali is second in group B. The Malian eagles will be playing at home and will definitely benefit from popular support. During the away match that took place in Cameroonian December, the Under 23 Lions outplayed the Malian Olympic Lions 2-0.