In the streets of Bafoussam, a city in central Cameroon, supporters crowd behind the screens of televisions offered by bars, shops or restaurants. From one sidewalk to another, the vuvuzelas echo each other. Everywhere there are cries, noise, flags, smoke … This Thursday, January 13, 300 kilometers further south, in the Olembe stadium in Yaoundé, the Indomitable Lions are preparing to face Ethiopia for their second match in the African Cup of Nations (CAN).
A bar dancing in the Djeleng district, in downtown Bafoussam, is full. On the terrace, in the smoke of the grills, about twenty people huddle around a television set. Inside, the two dance floors are bordered by two giant screens facing around fifty supporters. No one wears a mask.
Cameroonians love to scare each other. All fans of the Indomitable Lions know this. Nevertheless, when the defense of the Indomitable Lions is surprised at the 4e minute by the modest team of Ethiopia, the criticisms are fired: “Our defense is too crumbly! « , “Look at him, he’s lost his feet! « The disappointment was short-lived, however. Four minutes later, on a header at the far post, Karl Toko Ekambi sent the ball into the net and allowed Cameroon to come back. The whole town of Bafoussam cries out in relief. In the dance hall, we throw ourselves on the armchairs, we touch the ceiling with our hands and we fall into each other’s arms. In the street, the vuvuzelas are starting up again.
Cameroon discovers itself a hero
It’s half-time and Cameroon are still scared. A model balanced on the head, salesmen of sports shoes try to squeeze between the tables. Customers take advantage of the break to order a new round of beers or comment on the posters of personalities that adorn the walls of the dance floor. What can this Tony Blair poster do alongside those of Ange Ebogo Emerent and Sam Fan Thomas, two Cameroonian musicians?
No time to question further, the second period begins. The dancehall continues to fill up. We get out of the stools so that the new arrivals do not remain standing. No sooner had the last supporter sat down than Cameroon discovered a new hero. Vincent Aboubakar, already author of a double in the opening match against Burkina Faso, gives the advantage to Cameroonians (53rd). We dance in the middle of the floor, we embrace, we spill the beer …
Two minutes later, the same Vincent Aboubakar does it again. The excitement is at its height because at 3 goals to 1, the victory is sealed. A fourth goal, signed by Karl Toko Ekambi (67th), will give a large victory to the Indomitable Lions and propel the Cameroonians to the knockout stages of the African Cup of Nations, this competition that they have been waiting to play at home for a long time. half a century.
« The victory is there and it is beautiful »
“We played well on the offensive side, we created chances and we scored four goals, said Toni Conceiçao, the national team manager. But there are still things to be resolved, the difficulties will increase. We are aware that we must show more rigor and concentration. «
In the meantime, Cameroon is savoring. Inside the dance hall, the spectators are jubilant and congratulate each other. “It was a bit difficult but the victory is there and it is beautiful, welcomes Cherif a few seconds after the final whistle. After the opener I felt like I had a 50 kilogram bag on my head and instantly it just fell to the ground. Cameroon proves that it is still a country that matters in African football. «
« This victory goes straight to my heart and it must go to the hearts of all Cameroonians », adds his friend William. While the competition is being held in a tense security context – shots between soldiers and armed men injured Wednesday in western Cameroon, in the grip of a bloody conflict between the army and English-speaking separatists -, « I hope that this success will bring together all the inhabitants of the country because we must be one, like the Indomitable Lions tonight », says William. In the street, three women sing, laughing: « We’re going to dance until the early hours of the morning! » «