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‘Lions’ not Indomitable

. . . advantage Warriors as Cameroon camp is in disarray

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karongaa@dailynews.co.zw

ZIMBABWE Warriors’ opponents in tomorrow’s opening encounter of the African Nations Championship (Chan), Cameroon, are reportedly in disarray not because of the current Covid-19 pandemic but poor preparations caused by infighting within their football federation.

The local-based Warriors who arrived in Cameroon yesterday kick off the Chan tournament against the Indomitable Lions, who are battling criticism from sports analysts and fans alike.

Many have written the home team off, suggesting it would be a miracle if they are to go beyond the group stage. Despite a plethora of challenges bedevilling the Central African country, Cameroon however, remain favourites in Group A, which also has Burkina Faso and Mali.

Zimbabwe’s preparations have not been perfect because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which caused the suspension of the league last year and also the halting of the training camp after at least 15 players and technical officials tested positive for the virus.

The situation has also not been rosy in the opponents’ camp as summed by Cameroonian sports journalist Lawrence Nkede. “Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions have had rough preparations towards the competition. It’s important to note that we don’t have a running championship not because of Covid-19 but because of the infighting among football stakeholders,” Nkede told the Daily News yesterday.

“The team has faced a lot of transformations, first of all being the change of coach (where Martin Ndtoungou Mpile replaced Yves Clement Arroga in October). The main gaffer (Mpile) who was at the helm of the team was kicked out two-and-a-half months prior to the competition.

“The new coach (Arroga) decided to start everything from scratch, sidelining most of the players that were in camp so we have a new team, a bunch of players who cannot form a team because there’s not much solidarity in the squad.”

Cameroon fell 1-2 to Niger in a pre-Chan friendly encounter in Yaoundé a week ago and also lost 0-2 to Zambia, to go five matches without a win and casting doubt on their capabilities when the Chan tournament roars to life tomorrow.

“The team has been severely criticised by sports analysts and the fans in general because there’s a general outcry that the team doesn’t play well. The players are not physically fit, generally when you see them play after 45 minutes they are all tired,” Nkede added.

“It’s difficult for some of the players to go through a 90-minute game. Generally, we play well in the first half or the second half but many of the players are unable to sustain the rhythm of a 90-minute game that’s why we were awfully beaten by Zambia and even by a small country like Niger.

“Mind you, all these friendlies were being handled by Cameroonian referees so you can imagine what could happen at the competition itself. Most Cameroonians are really pessimistic about the team; many are sceptical of seeing that team crossing the first round.”

Meanwhile, the Warriors landed in Cameroon yesterday and went through their first training session in the evening, according to Zifa manager of all national teams Wellington Mpandare.

“We travelled well but it was a bit hectic at the airport where we spent almost three hours. They had to do rapid tests again and we had to wait for the results and after that we went to our hotel, which is right in town, it’s not bad,”
Mpandare told the Daily News.

“We had lunch and then at 6pm we are going for training. The results that were done at the airport were all negative and we are due for another test tonight (last night) for Saturday’s game. The boys are a bit tired but they are psyched up and we are looking forward to a good tournament.”

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