Indomitable Lions: Song fired!.

Rigobert Song has been fired as head coach of the men’s senior national football team of Cameroon.

The decision to relieve the gaffer of his duties is contained in a statement released February 28 by the Minister of Sports and Physical Education, MINSEP, Prof Narcisse Mouelle Kombi.

According to the document, the decision not to renew Song's contract at the helm of the country’s national football team, was arrived at after deliberations between MINSEP, some officials of the Cameroon Football Federation, FECAFOOT, and Rigobert Song.

The statement, signed by the MINSEP boss, Prof Narcisse Mouelle Kombi, did not dive into the nitty-gritty behind the raison d’etre of the decision.

The release, a copy of which The Guardian Post obtained, however said that: “I have the honour to notify you that your contract expires on February 29, 2024 in accordance with article 6, paragraph 1. Therefore, it is not possible for the State, provider of your remuneration (salary and other benefits) to renew your appointment as manager of the Indomitable Lions”.

FECAFOOT has also confirmed the departure of Rigobert Song. The statement signed by the Secretary General of the country’s regulatory football body, Blaise Njounang, stated that: “The Executive Committee of the Cameroon Football Federation notified the members of the Indomitable Lions staff of the end of their contract to manage the Cameroon senior men’s national team”.

The statement went further to revealed that: “FECAFOOT took this opportunity to thank Mr Rigobert Song Bahanag and his assistants for their dedication to the service of the nation during the two years they have been in charge”.

FECAFOOT has also announced that “details of the recruitment process for a new Indomitable Lions coaching staff will be announced”.

 

Enter Samuel Eto’o

In an exclusive interview granted France-based television channel, France 24, the President of FECAFOOT, Samuel Eto’o, officially announced the departure of Rigobert Song from the Lions' den. Eto’o paid a touching tribute to his former national teammate and captain. He also regretted that despite their huge ambition, they were unable to attain their objectives. 

“He has brought a lot to this team but the laws of football being what they are, we have not achieved our objectives and our Executive Committee and I do not see ourselves renewing the contract. I had the opportunity to discuss with him. I have given our position and now we must think about the future while wishing him every success in his future,” Eto’o said.

 

Why Song’s sacking was inevitable 

Rigobert Song’s two-year contract as head coach of the Cameroon national team, Indomitable Lions, expired yesterday. He was appointed head coach of the Indomitable Lions on February 28, 2022, in replacement of Antonio Conceicao. 

Two years down the line, a majority of Cameroonian football lovers seem to hold the opinion that the Lions, under Song, lost their claws.

To say that Song’s reign atop the Cameroon national team was a disappointment would, to some football diehards, be an understatement. 

Football fans had been calling for the dismissal of Rigobert Song as talks about his future animated public debate. 

Many had even gone further to advance tangible reasons why his contract should not be renewed.

Every football manager is ultimately judged on results. This, to analysts, is why Song had to be fired.

Since his appointment, two years ago, he had to deal with array of issues. 

There are very few words left that haven’t been said already about Song’s ‘catastrophic’ tenure as the team continued to underperform. 

Song failed to revive the fortunes of the national team. His statistics did not reflect the much-trumpeted progress his apologists spoke of.

Song recorded just six victories in 23 matches played after taking over, with eight draws and nine defeats. This was comparatively lower compared to his predecessor, Antonio Conceicao. 

The Portuguese gaffer who was sacked after leading Cameroon to a bronze medal at the 2021 AFCON, had played 24 matches, recording 14 victories with six draws and just three defeats.

 

Cameroon under Song at int’l competitions

During his stay at the helm of the team, Rigobert Song led Cameroon to two major tournaments.

Song made a strong start to his tenure by qualifying Cameroon for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar but since struggled on the bench for what many have considered as far too long. 

Cameroon exited the 32-nation tournament in the group stage for the sixth successive time. The only positive from their campaign was a famous 1-0 win against record five-time World Cup champions, Brazil.

During the just 2023 AFCON in Cote d’Ivoire, the team failed to clinch a sixth continental trophy, after they were knocked out in the round of 16 by familiar foes, Nigeria. 

Their exit summed up an unconvincing campaign where the team often put up a lackluster display.

Ultimately, a manager who records poor and unconvincing results and fails to lead the ream to success is only heading to one direction; through the exit door.

 

Controversy over players selection, rift within team

Experts have argued that although not all players can be selected to represent the national team, it was difficult to comprehend certain choices of Coach Rigobert Song.

Some have argued that this was due to bad blood within the team which retarded the team’s progress.

There were also cases of feud in the team. During the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Andre Onana was reportedly sent home before the team’s penultimate group game against Serbia after a dispute with the coach.

 

Apprenticeship or coaching?

Rigobert Song was also highly criticised for his coaching style, which borne little fruits in two years. 

His tactical choices, line-up and substitutions, left fans and even officials sometimes in a state of pandemonium.

To many, Song didn't have the mastery of the team, neither did the former Cameroonian international possess the required qualities to guide the Indomitable Lions to great effects.

He had told reporters after Cameroon’s defeat to Nigeria in the round of 16 of the 2023 AFCON, that he was the manager and not the trainer of the Lions.

“I am the manager…that means what it means in the strict sense of management. I have a national team in front of me. I don’t train it, I manage it,” Song had said.

 

What next? 

Football analysts have argued, and rightly so that, the Cameroon national team needs a new start. To get there, they say, there is need for a new management in place. 

A new experienced and winning oriented coach shall be able to build a high-quality squad full of depth and versatility, especially as Cameroon focuses on the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

It is worthy to mention that government and football stakeholders recently held talks to salvage the worsening situation of the national team, following a string of poor results.

The Guardian Post can authoritatively report that on instructions of the Presidency of the Republic, the Secretary General at the Prime Minister’s Office, Seraphin Magloire Fouda, convened a meeting on Tuesday February 27. 

The meeting prompted speculations over Song’s firing, which finally came yesterday evening.

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