Tough-talking Eto’o steps down from high horse.

Lions coach, FECAFOOT president, MINSEP representative & others after meeting

The President of the Cameroon Football Federation, FECAFOOT, Samuel Eto’o Fils, has in what some observers have described as stepping down from his high horse, apologised to the head coach of the national men’s football team of Cameroon, Marc Brys.

Eto’o, who was involved in a verbal altercation with the Belgian football trainer and the Technical Adviser No. 2 at the Ministry of Sports and Physical Education, Prof Cyrille Tollo, at the FECAFOOT head office, on Wednesday May 28, has expressed regret over the said incident.

The FECAFOOT boss tendered the apology to the Lions head coach Thursday, shortly after an in-camera working session at the federation head office in Tsinga.

Eto’o, who turned to Marc Brys during the press briefing after the meeting, said: “I want to apologise because in our unfortunate first meeting, there were lots of emotions…I prefer to put it that way but as you know… the only interest has to get us to work. Like I told the coach, I have convictions we won’t change,” Eto’o said.

The Eto’o Fils-led FECAFOOT had decided to suspend coach Marc Brys after Tuesday’s verbal standoff between both official. He went ahead to appoint an interim technical staff for the Indomitable Lions, led by Ndtoungou Mpile.

States authorities are said not to have digested the continuous defiance of the FECAFOOT boss, who initially kicked against the Marc Brys-led technical staff of the Lions, appointed on April 2, 2024, through a press release signed by the Minister of Sports and Physical Education, Prof Narcisse Mouelle Kombi.

The Guardian Post gathered from trusted sources that after Tuesday's incident at FECAFOOT, Eto’o was summoned to the Presidency of the Republic, on the firm instructions of President Paul Biya and told to respect the instructions handed down by the Head of State, with respect to the appointment of the staff of the national football team.

It is in this light that FECAFOOT, through its Secretary General, Blaise Djounang, summoned the Belgian football tactician, who had been suspended from his functions, for a meeting at FA's headquarters Thursday. 

The meeting also had in attendance Dissake Mbarga, the Inspector General at the Ministry of Sports and Physical Education, representing Minister Mouelle Kombi.

Eto’o Fils (second from right), Marc Brys (second from left) facing the press after in camera working session



Fruitful collaboration promised

All the parties emerged from the in-camera meeting with the resolve to put the interest of the country first.

In a rather relaxed and composed mode, Eto’o said FECAFOOT and MINSEP were going to work together as a team.

“We have since the last two years been working to build a solid national team. I think that the administrative issues that were a hindrance to obtain better results on the field no longer exist,” an unusual humble Eto’o said.

According to Eto’o, yesterday’s reconciliation signaled a new dawn for Cameroon football.

The football administrator went further to explain that all the stakeholders have agreed to work to pave the way for the Indomitable Lions staff to prepare for next month’s 2026 FIFA World qualifiers. 

Eto’o also promised to work with Brys and MINSEP. He said: “If we do not win, it will be difficult for me to pay salaries and further develop football. I know it won’t be an easy mission, despite the experience you have, but know that you will have our support so that it becomes less difficult”.


Enter Marc Brys & minister’s representative

The head coach of Cameroon national team, Marc Brys, for his part, thanked Eto’o for the warm reception after a brawl on Tuesday during his second visit to the FECAFOOT head office.

Brys reinterred that they are all working for the same objectives. The Belgian gaffer also made mention of the fact that all the means and experiences had to be brought together to ensure that the team thrives.

For his part, the representative of the sports minister, Inspector General at MINSEP, Michael Dissake, expressed satisfaction that the meeting with FECAFOOT unfolded peacefully and ended on a satisfactory note.

Dissake told reporters that: “As a good Christian, I would say that the devil has been shamed. If it was the devil who was behind us, he has been shamed. The virtues of sports have prevailed at the end; fair play, acceptance, and respect”.

Marc Brys, Eto’o Fils exchanging niceties after working session



Uncertainty still looms

Although Samuel Eto’o made peace with Brys and MINSEP, nothing was mentioned about the technical team that shall be working with the Belgian tactician.

It is still unclear if it is the technical and administrative team appointed through a press release on April 2, by the Minister of Sports and Physical Education or that named by FECAFOOT, on May 8, that would be working with Brys for the World Cup qualifiers.

Earlier in the day, the interim coaching staff of the national team,  who were appointed by the Executive Committee of FECAFOOT on May 28, decided to step down from their respective roles.

Martin Ndtoungou Mpile, who was named as the interim head coach of the Indomitable Lions, announced in a letter to FECAFOOT that he was no longer capable to assume the function for “personal and confidential reasons.

David Pagou, also made public his decision to resign from his position as assistant interim head coach of the national team.

Pagou, who has a wealth of experience under his belt, said: “I have the honour to bring to your attention that in my capacity as civil servant, I can only assume this task after authorisation from my hierarchy, MINSEP.

Also, Pagou’s reluctance to accept the job comes barely 24 hours after he was transferred to far away Salapoumbe, in the East Region, by the Minister of Sports and Physical Education.

Another member of the interim technical team, Narcisse Tinkeu, who was appointed physical trainer of the team, by FECAFOOT, was transferred to Moloundou in the East Region. 

The transfer of these personnel of the Ministry of Sports and Physical Education, who were appointed to various roles in the national team, has been described by observers as some kind of punishment for standing against the state. 

It should be noted that the Lions are expected to begin camping in Yaounde on Sunday June 2, in preparation for the two World Cup qualifying matches against Cape Verde and Angola.

The Lions face the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium on June 8, before travelling to play Angola, three days later in Luanda.



This story was first published in The Guardian Post issue No3127 of Friday May 31, 2024


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