Eto’o, the return of the prodigal son
Cameroonian international Samuel Eto’o Fils
After being called up again to the national team in view of the first leg of the last round of Afcon 2012 qualifiers against Cape Verde at the end of August, following his eight-month suspension due to his involvement in the “Marrakech affair” last November, Samuel Eto’o Fils chose not to honour the call-up, refusing to support what he called “amateurism” reigning within the management of the Indomitable Lions.
The humiliation that followed in Praia (defeat of the Lions 2-1) lead to the replacement of Denis Lavagne by Jean-Paul Akono on the Cameroonian bench, and left a whole nation with a terrible problem to solve: how to avoid the unspeakable insult of a second consecutive non-qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations after the disastrous failure of 2012.
The former coach of the U23 gold medallists of the Sydney Olympics, Akono, has always been hard on the former Barcelona player, whom he has accused of having a bad influence on the team, but this time he did not think twice before making the return of the prodigal son his first priority as the new strong man of the Lions.
The team, currently lying two goals down before the return leg in Yaoundé, has a very long way to go before qualifying, but with Eto’o’s return this might not just be wishful thinking.
Because above and beyond his so-called tendency towards being manipulative and having an ego that many deem to be oversized, no one can deny the extraordinary list of achievements of the Daguestan star.
The four-time African Ballon d’Or is the best striker in the history of Cameroon and of the Africa Cup of Nations, as well as being the only player on the continent who can add to his list of achievements four UEFA Champions League titles (if one counts the one that he started in the Real Madrid colours in 2000, but was then loaned to Mallorca).
Amongst others, Eto’o Fils can also boast being the only player ever to have won two consecutive trebles (Championship, Cup, Champions League) for two different clubs (FC Barcelona and Inter Milan) and to have scored in all official competitions (Championship, Cup, UEFA Cup, Europa League, Champions League, Club World Cup, Africa Cup of Nations, Confederation Cup, World Cup, Olympic Games).
Come what may, the return of the former captain and the promises he undoubtedly received from Philémon Yang will not be without controversy, and one might anticipate, never mind hope for, a small upheaval within Fécafoot where President Iya Mohamed has remained strangely silent since the Praia debacle…