12 April 2019 02:30
Cameroon’s only success at this stage was in 2003 in Eswatini, then called Swaziland. Ever since, ‘Les Lionceaux’, have been missing from the podium at the biennial cadet championship.
The squad fine-tuned their preparations for Tanzania in neighbouring Rwanda, participating in a three-nation tourney that included host Rwanda and Tanzania.
The team coached by former Indomitable Lions midfielder, Thomas Libiih, has been given maximum attention by the Cameroonian Federation since their gold finish at the UNIFFAC Zonal qualifiers in August 2018 in Equatorial Guinea.
The team’s output was excellent out there, scoring 17 goals to emerge the best on the scores sheet, beating the much dreaded Congo 3-1 in the final in Malabo.
Since then, the boys have been in camp in Yaounde, getting top notch preparations that culminated with the invitational tournament in Antalya – Turkey last February. Team Cameroon recorded two wins over Uganda (4-1) and Belarus (1-0) during UEFA Assist Invitational tournament, losing their third game to Morocco (0-2).
“The boys have worked really hard. We’ve had a series of friendlies that has made us correct our errors and by the time we get to Tanzania, we will be combat ready for the competition,” said Libih, whose team managed just a single victory in their final preparatory test, 3-1 win over host Rwanda, in a three-nation tourney in Kigali, that also included Tanzania. The Cubs suffered a 2-1 loss to Tanzania, who claimed the title after a 3-3 draw Rwanda in the final match.
According to the players, their prime objective is to reach the last four which will earn them one of the four African slots to the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil later in the year.
For defensive midfielder Fabrice Mvoue Steve, “our primary goal is to win a ticket to the FIFA U-17 World Cup. After, we can begin playing for a place on the podium”.
For now, the team’s force is credited to Libiih whose former status as a former national star, is a boost to the youngsters. Libiih was part of the golden generation of players that represented the country at the 1990 FIFA World Cup quarter final finish in Italy.
“He is our role model,” says captain Fabric Ndzie,.
“He’s always had the right word for us at the most difficult moments, helping us win when everyone thought we would lose,” added Ndzie.
As the team readies for Tanzania, focus will be on talented goalkeeper Ekoi Manfred who plays for the Limbe-based second-tier side Best Stars. At 16, Ekoi has been the foundation of the team’s force, with timely saves and a good game reading.
“I conceded three goals out there, shots I could stop especially in the last game against Morocco. Every time I reflect I think I could stop them and boost my mates to a better output,” he commented on the team’s outing during the Turkey outing.
Away from the goalkeeper and captain, versatile midfield dynamo, Regis Mvoue Steve is another force. Capable of playing any position, the 16-year-old is more at ease in an offensive role where he played in the qualifying tournament. With three goals to his credit in four games, Steve lived up to the expectations of one-time captain of the Cameroon U-14 team. After trials in Monaco in France, the former FC Azur trainee decided to come back and play in the U17 AFCON and possibly the FIFA U-17 World Cup where a good output will mean a better club. And for the Tanzania show piece, Steve says, “we’ve prepared very well, we’re out to put in every aorta of energy to bring back glory and we think all is possible.”
Cameroon are drawn in Group B along with Guinea, Morocco and Senegal. They begin the campaign Guinea on April 15 at the Chamazi stadium.