CAMEROON: BREWING AFRICAN CHAMPIONS?

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The 2014 African Women’s Championship in Namibia will never be forgotten by the Indomitable Lionesses of Cameroon. Though they lost in the Final to the Super Falcons of Nigeria, qualifying for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada was a consolation. Finally! They were going to the World Cup!

 

Ranked 53rd in the World, the Cameroonians were placed in Group C of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, alongside Japan, Switzerland and Ecuador, ranked 4th,19thand 48th respectively. Les Lionnes were obviously not one of the favorites to qualify from that group. They apparently lacked the experience to go that far.

 

However, Coach Enow Ngachu looked forward to his team “having an impact at the World Cup”.

 

And so, it began. 8th of June 2015, the African runners-up had their first match of the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada, against fellow debutantes Ecuador.
The battle of the debutantes had a relatively slow start, with no goal from either side after half an hour. On the 32nd minute, Cameroon’s Madeleine Ngono Mani opened the flood gates of goals. At half time, Gaelle Enganamouit and Captain Christine Manie had extended the lead for Cameroon.
The second half was a Cameroonian affair as well, with Gaelle Enganamouit completing a hat-trick and Onguene putting her name on the score sheet. Full time: Cameroon 6-0 Ecuador. What a debut! But of course, the Cameroonians only defeated their fellow debutantes.

 

It was not going to get any easier.

 

With their confidence boosted, it was time for the Indomitable Lionesses to take on defending Champions, Japan. The World expected a one-sided game, in favor of the Japanese. However, the Cameroonians showed they were no push-overs. They lost honorably, with the defending Champions having the edge by a two goals to one.
 

Still with the hopes of qualifying from the group, Switzerland were the next opponents. It did not start well for EnowNgachu’s ladies, and they were a goal down at half time. It was however a total turn around in the second half. The Indomitable Lionesses dominated the second half and goals from Gabrielle Onguene and Madeline Ngono gave them the victory.
 

History was made. Cameroon had qualified for the Knock-out stage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup on their first appearances, becoming the second African team to progress out of the group stage after Nigeria in 1999. Cameroonians were proud, Africans were proud. With the other African representatives, Nigeria and Cote D’Ivoire out of the tournament, the whole of Africa turned to Cameroon.
 

In the knock-out stage, the near fairytale debut of Les Lionnes was put to an end by China. Losing honorably by just a goal, the Cameroonians exited the World Cup with their heads high. Scoring 9 goals and conceding just 3, it was a debut worth praising.

 

Cameroon took the World Cup by storm, and are looking forward to doing the same on the continent. They have stepped Cameroonian Women’s Football up a notch and they will not back down. As 3-time African runners-up (1991, 2004 and 2014), Les Lionnes will be going into the next African Women’s Championship more confident than ever and are ready to compete with 7-time Champions, Nigeria.
 

The likes of goalkeeper Annette Ngo Ndom, Christine Manie, Gaelle Enganamouit, Gabrielle Onguene and the Cameroonian Women’s National Team as a whole have made Africa proud and shown that Women’s Football is developing on the Continent.
 

According to Forward Madeleine Ngono Mani “Nigeria were winning all the time in Africa. They were pushing us to say one day we also have to achieve like Nigeria.

 

This achievement is going to change a lot of things for Cameroonian women’s football.
That says it all. The Super Falcons of Nigeria need to watch their backs. Could power be changing hands in Women’s Football in Africa?

 

Only Time……..will tell.

 

 

Article by Biola Omowanle.

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