The under-23 lions are presently camping in Ombe ahead of next Sunday’s match against the Elephants of Côte d’Ivoire. The third round for the African qualifiers for the 2004 Olympic Games will take place from January 2 to 4, 2004 through out Africa. The Under-23 Lions will face their Ivorian counterparts on January 04th, 2004.
The match is of utmost importance to the Lions who are presently heading Group B with six points. If the Lions, defending champions, must secure a place for themselves at the Games in Athens, they are oblige to beat Côte d’Ivoire next Sunday to distance themselves from the next two contenders. The Elephants of Ivory Coast and the Malian Eaglets are trailling the Lions with three points each.
Coach Jean Paul Akono and his boys know the stakes are high. This is why they are presently fine-tuning their skills in Ombe, South West province. The squad, made up of both home-based and professional players, have been camping since last Saturday with a minimum of two training sessions a day. Coach Jean Paul Akono is determined to help his boys overcome the shortcomings noticed during their encounter with the Malian Eagles a fortnight ago in Yaounde. Although Cameroon beat Mali 2 – 0, the Indomitable Lions were heavy, slow and lacked cohesion in it’s play style. The excuse given then was that most of professionals arrived in Cameroon 24 hours before the match and never had time to train together.
After spending a week, it is certain that the group has knitted it’s play style. The Under-23 Lions has, since the first playing day, demonstrated their supremacy in the group. During their first outing on October 26, 2003 in Brazzaville, Cameroon beat the Democratic Republic of Congo 4 – 1. On December 21, 2003, the Lions outplayed the Malian Eaglets 2 – 0 in Yaounde. The wish of all Cameroonian is that the Under-23 Lions devour the Elephants of Côte d’Ivoire next Sunday. This can only come through hard work.
The first team of each group will, at the end of the qualifying series, go to Athens for the Olympic Games.