Football: Triumphant Cameroon hail coach as 'magician'

Cameroon celebrating after winning their fifth Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday. The tournament underdogs came from behind to beat seven-time champions Egypt 2-1 in a pulsating final and are now the second most successful team in the history of the co
Cameroon celebrating after winning their fifth Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday. The tournament underdogs came from behind to beat seven-time champions Egypt 2-1 in a pulsating final and are now the second most successful team in the history of the competition.PHOTO: REUTERS

LIBREVILLE • Cameroon celebrated the most improbable of victories at the Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday, and coach Hugo Broos hoped it would pave the way towards a bright future for his team.

The Indomitable Lions showed remarkable character to come from behind and beat Egypt 2-1 in a brilliant game at the Stade de l'Amitie in Libreville, with Nicolas Nkoulou and Vincent Aboubakar scoring to spark wild celebrations.

It was the first time a team had come from behind to win the final since 1994 and it was a first continental title for Cameroon since 2002, their fifth in total.

The triumph, witnessed by a crowd in the Gabonese capital made up of a majority of Cameroonians, completed a remarkable journey for a side that had been written off prior to the tournament.

Eight players, notably Liverpool defender Joel Matip and Schalke striker Eric Choupo-Moting, refused call-ups, leaving Broos to work with an inexperienced side.

The young team held their own, eliminating hosts Gabon, the much-fancied Senegal and Ghana en route to the tournament finale, where they claimed Cameroon's first win against Egypt in a Cup of Nations final at the third attempt.

"I brought in some new young players and we started working. We did a good job and now today we have a team," said Broos after Sunday's match.

His man management has been remarkable and on Sunday it was notable that two substitutes scored the goals.

Nkoulou, the Lyon defender, started only once during the tournament and came on as a first-half replacement. Aboubakar, the powerful centre-forward playing for Besiktas in Turkey, also started only one game, but he scored the decisive penalty in the shoot-out against Senegal in the quarter- finals and the winner in the final.

Defender Michael Ngadeu, one of the stars of Cameroon's run, heaped praise on his Belgian coach, under whom the Indomitable Lions have been beaten just once since his appointment last year.

"He is a magician. The team has been reborn under him," said the Slavia Prague defender, who scored the opener in the semi-final against Ghana.

"A lot of them didn't believe in him, I'll admit. A lot of Cameroonians criticised him. But today I think he is the hero. He should get a medal for what he has done."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 07, 2017, with the headline 'Triumphant Cameroon hail coach as 'magician''. Print Edition | Subscribe