Samuel Eto'o, president of the Cameroon Football Federation (Fecafoot), recently expressed cautious optimism about his nation's chances of reclaiming the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title in Côte d’Ivoire next year.
Speaking at the Ballon d'Or ceremony this month, Eto'o lauded the Indomitable Lions' performance against Libya in November's 1-1 draw, suggesting it offered a glimpse of their championship potential. However, he acknowledged the inherent unpredictability of football, admitting Cameroon could stumble despite promising signs.
"If we play like we did in Libya, we have a good chance of being champions," Eto'o declared, before tempering his expectations. "But football is not an exact science, and we could lose. I made the mistake of ruling out that possibility at the last World Cup."
Fecafoot's measured ambitions appear to align with the Cameroonian government's stance. Sports Minister Narcisse Mouelle Kombi recently set a modest target of "shining" at the tournament, stopping short of demanding outright victory.
Bookmakers echo this cautious outlook, placing Cameroon among the outsiders alongside Algeria and Ghana. Senegal, Egypt, Morocco, Ivory Coast, and Nigeria are heavily favored, with Cameroon currently ranked 12th by leading bookmakers compared to Senegal's top contender spot at 7/1 odds.
The Indomitable Lions, who finished third at the 2022 AFCON on home soil, have struggled for consistency since their disappointing World Cup exit in Qatar. They narrowly secured their Afcon 2023 qualification, and public confidence remains unsettled due to coach Rigobert Song's frequent squad rotations and reliance on untested dual nationals.
In the event Song assembles a strong starting lineup for Côte d’Ivoire, concerns linger about the depth of the bench. With the tournament kicking off on January 15, Song is expected to finalize his selection today, December 28. The Indomitable Lions will then face Zambia in a friendly on January 9 before entering their challenging Group C alongside defending champions Senegal and Gambia.
Michel Ange Nga