Brys breathes fresh breeze into Lions den.

Returnee, Michael Ngadeu, scored Cameroon’s first goal against Cape Verde

The era of Marc Brys as head coach of the senior men’s national football team of Cameroon, has begun on a bright note.  

In what observers and analysts have described as Brys breathing fresh breeze into the Lions den, the Belgian football tactician led Cameroon to an impressive 4-1 finish over Cabo Verde in Yaounde on Saturday June 8.



The match played at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium was Brys’s first baptism of fire as coach of a national football team. 

It was Match Day Three encounter in Group D of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. 

Marc Brys, who was named head coach of the national team, April 2, 2024, by government, through the Minister of Sports and Physical Education, MINSEP, and later confirmed by the Executive Committee of the Cameroon Football Federation, FECAFOOT, went into the game, poised for a win as his tenure began.

The 62-year-old football manager named a strong line-up to face Cabo Verde. 

Manchester United goalkeeper, Andre Onana, started at goal, with Michael Ngadeu, and Martin Hongla also handed starting roles.

Bryan Mbeumo, who missed out from the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations due to injury, was also on the starting block, while Brighton and Hove Albion midfield sensation, Carlos Baleba, made his international debut with the team.

The host started the game under pressure and needed to win to return atop their group, after Libya and Angola secured wins. 

The game was only 13 minutes old when China-based defender, Ngadeu, formerly ostracised from the team, headed home from Nicolas Ngamaleu’s assist.

The five-time African champions doubled the lead on 25 minutes through skipper, Vincent Aboubakar.

Cabo Verde managed to pull one back 12 minutes later, when Jamiro Monteiro slotted Bebe’s through ball but Aboubakar completed his brace after converting from the spot to restore the team’s two-goal lead. 

Defender Nouhou Tolo then sealed the win in the second half with another header.

 

Brys silences critics?

Analysts have argued, and rightly so, that Marc Brys has breathed new breeze in the national team. 

The selection had been facing several upheavals, which affected team’s cohesion and the famed fighting spirit popularly known as “hemle”.

The appointment of the Belgian gaffer and his technical staff members at the helm of the national team, led to a fracas between the sports ministry and FECAFOOT.

Some football fans in the country believed that his appointment would not pay dividends since he was considered a “no name” and did not have an impressive curriculum vitae. He had also never coached a national football team, prior to his appointment as Lions trainer. 

Some supporters were further enraged after the list of high-profile candidates for the role from FECAFOOT was rejected by the sports ministry.

However, Marc Brys began to win the hearts of some fans during his European tour, where he engaged in reconciliation, consultation, detection and scouting of young and talented players for the team. 

They were seduced to admire his persistent search for quality, results-oriented personality and never-giving up attitude.

After yesterday’s win, thousands in the stands at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium chanted “Marc Brys” and celebrated him for the Lions brilliant win.

 

Brys destined to succeed?

Marc Brys also became one of the few coaches of the national team who has won his opening fixture. 

The Belgian, who is leading a national team for the first time in his coaching career, did not just win but achieved the victory in emphatic fashion.

His predecessor, Rigobert Song, started his tenure as Cameroon coach on a disappointing note, after the Indomitable Lions lost to Algeria 0-1 in Douala, during the qualifiers of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Before Song, Portuguese gaffer, Antonio Conceicao, in his maiden outing with the Lions, achieved a goalless draw against Tunisia, in an international friendly.

Hugo Broos, who won Cameroon’s fifth and last AFCON title in 2017, had to see his team come from behind twice to draw 2-2 against South Africa in his first match. 

In 2019, AC Milan and Netherlands legend, Clarence Seerdorf drew 1-1 with minnows, Comoros.

 

What next after Cabo Verde win? 

Saturday’s victory was the second for the Indomitable Lions in the ongoing World Cup qualifiers. 

The team had opened their campaign with a 3-0 thrashing of Mauritius, before drawing 1-1 against Libya.

The win against Cabo Verde ensured the Cameroon national team returned to the top of Group G.

They are tied on 7 points with second place Libya. The team has the chance to consolidate its position in the group when they face third placed Angola, in Match Day Four.

The game is scheduled to take place tomorrow June 11 at the Estadio 11 de Novembro in Luanda.

 

PM, Sports boss praise Lions for victory

Reacting shortly after the encounter, the Prime Minister, Head of Government, Chief Dr Joseph Dion Ngute, who watched the game from the VIP stand at the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium, praised the players for their efforts in obtaining the win.

PM Dion Ngute also seized the occasion to wish the team the best as they prepare to face Angola in their next game. PM Dion Ngute expressed optimism that the team will triumph against their rivals.

For his part, sports minister, Prof Narcisse Mouelle Kombi, also congratulated the entire staff members and players of the technical team for the victory.

On is Facebook page, Minister Mouelle Kombi wrote: “When there is victory, it will be the victory of the Indomitable Lions and beyond that, the victory of the Cameroonian sporting public, the victory of our nation”.

 

 

This story was first published in The Guardian Post issue No3137 of Monday June 10, 2024

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