Thousands of Cameroonian football fans celebrated in the streets of the capital Yaounde Sunday, as their ‘Lions’ lived up to the name to defeat Egypt 2-1 and lift the trophy at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations.
Fans hit spoons, dishes, drums and blew trumpets to celebrate Cameroon’s championship victory at the Africa Cup of Nations.
It was a surprising win in the championship game for a team many had deemed second-rate heading into the important continent-wide football (soccer) tournament.
One of the fans, Njitap Anatol, says he is very proud because Cameroon has defeated Egypt by two goals to one. He says the Lions can beat any team in the world.
Watch: Egyptian reaction when Egypt’s team opened the score
Cameroon went into the 16 team tournament with low expectations after seven regulars, called up to participate, refused to play. They said they were too busy with important games for their European teams.
But others, like goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa, who plays for a Spanish club, did show up winning accolades.
Football fan Pauline Chejoy says “Ondoa is a great sportsman. He is sticky like chewing gum. When he takes hold of the ball, he does not let it go.”
The victory has redeemed Cameroon’s Belgian coach, Hugo Broos, who faced criticism after seven team regulars refused to play. Broos said he did not want players who may not give their best effort.
Fifteen of the players on this year’s Cameroon team were playing in a continental tournament for the first time.
One of Cameroon’s premier league coaches, Eloundou Kizito, said the team showed patriotism and professionalism.
He says although Broos has never trained a national football team of any nation and faced difficulties assembling trusted players and regulars, he still found the winning formula. He says all coaches should learn from Broos’ example.
The Lions’ team anthem played by Cameroon’s military band blasted through speakers at the head office of Cameroon’s football federation. Hundreds of supporters were here awaiting transport to the airport to give the team a hero’s welcome.
Awah Fonka Agustine, governor of Cameroon’s western region, is one of the fans ready to welcome the team home.
“A great day. This is wonderful. Unexpected,” he said. “I think the majority of us saw this team from the beginning and we didn’t believe that they could come up with this wonderful results. Today we see what faith and determination can do. I think they’ve made all of us proud.”
Besides winning the continental trophy, Cameroon striker Christian Bassogog was voted best player of the tournament, Fabrice Ondoa best goalkeeper and team captain, Benjamin Moukandjo, man of the match.
It was Cameroon’s first time to capture the AFCON trophy since 2002.