When the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon took to the pitch at 2.30 pm on Tuesday, I was rooting for them. I believed they had what it takes to win against Germany.
Indeed, they gave some spectacular displays that left me convinced that the odds were in their favour. When the half-time whistle blew and the scores were still at nil nil, I attributed the score-line to bad luck. I was sure that they would hit the back of the net come the second round.
I don’t know what transpired in the changing room during the break but whatever it was, it did not bode well for the team. Soon after the game kicked off, the Lions slackened. They consistently refused to bombard the German goal with shots even when they had opportunities to do so. In fact, they demonstrated that they clearly did not want to win.
I was appalled by the lackadaisical way in which the team played, doing little to contain or harass their opponents. No wonder, in the opening minutes of the second half, they conceded a simple goal that they could have prevented had they worked a little harder. It did not matter to them that they were one man up after Germany’s Carsten Ramelow was sent off. The commitment to win or equalise was lacking. I got the impression that they were playing to lose if only to prove a point – whatever that point was.
At one stage in the game, I stopped supporting Cameroon because I was so angry with them. When they conceded a second goal with 11 minutes to go, I cheered on the Germans although it was the last thing I would have wanted to do.
True, there was a problem with the officiating but it was not outrightly against Cameroon’s favour as was the case in the Senegal versus Uruguay match earlier in the day. So the Cameroonians cannot blame their failure on the referee.
I got the impression that their problem was not in the pitch even though I saw a juju man trying to concoct a winning formula for them in the stands. The problem was elsewhere. That is why even substitutes did not make an impression.
One thing, however, remains. Cameroon came into the tournament troubled and they left after troubling their numerous fans in Tokyo and Africa. I am terribly disappointed. I am now rooting for the Lions of Teranga.