Cameroonians jubilant after Indomitable Lions win African Nations Cup title

Cameroon celebrates fifth African Cup of Nations title after beating Egypt 2-1 triggering wild celebrations in the streets.

DOUALA, CAMEROON (FEBRUARY 5, 2017) (REUTERS) – Cameroonians celebrated their national teams 2-1 victory against Egypt at the African Cup of Nations on Sunday night (February 5) in the commercial capital of Douala.

It was Cameroon’s first title since 2002 and denied Egypt a triumphant return to the tournament they last won in 2010, while at the same time inflicting a first loss on the North African side in 25 Nations Cup matches dating back to 2004.

The Indomitable Lions’ victory came when Vincent Aboubakar scored a late goal in the final in Gabon.

Egypt’s midfielder Mohamed Elneny had put them ahead midway through the first half.

Nicolas Nkoulou equalised on the hour and, as Egypt tired, Cameroon appeared to find a new gear, creating several chances before Aboubakar struck the winner in the 88th minute after chesting the ball down and flicking it over defender Ali Gabr.

Supporters in Cameroon were ecstatic saying they had broken the favourites to win Egypt. They praised the team, and paid tribute to the women’s team who were beaten by Nigeria in the Women’s Cup of African Nations last year.

“It has been more than 10 years that we don’t see the Lions (Cameroon team). And this year, when people kept saying Cameroon could not defeat Egypt, in the end the kids showed what they were capable of. And I have also prayed for the women (the women’s team who played in the Women’s Cup of African Nations) because it’s thanks to the women that the men got the courage to win the cup. Congratulations to the Lions! I am with you the Lions,” said Constant Petan, a fan in Douala.

“I am proud because it’s been practically 10 years we didn’t win. And I thank the girls (the women’s team), because it is thanks to the girls that the boys said they would play and we have broken the ‘sign indien’, the curse that meant Egypt always won. I applaud the Lions and I am proud to be Cameroonian. Thank you,” said another fan, Mike Elua.

“All I can feel is amazement, amazement! Great joy! A feeling of exploding! All I can do is explode with joy because finally we broke the curse, we broke the curse that wanted Egypt to win! We broke the voice that said that Cameroonians couldn’t beat Egypt. Today the Cameroonians beat Egypt! They beat Egypt 2 goals to 1. Which means the Lions are the strongest!” said Jeanne Essono, another fan

Cameroon twice lost the final to Egypt in 1986 and 2008.

Cameroon’s new coach Hugo Broos broke age old tradition for this tournament by promoting younger players and leaving out more experienced players. Broos, who played for Belgium at the 1986 World Cup and won league titles as coach of Club Bruges and Anderlecht, made five changes between his first and second games in charge – both against South Africa in qualifiers in March. The rate of experimentation continued at much the same pace through seven internationals before Cameroon arrived in Gabon.

Among the heroes of their progress to the final are two players who won their first caps last year, defender Michael Ngadeu Ngadjui, scorer of two key goals in the tournament, and Danish-based striker Christian Bassogog.

Even in Gabon, Broos kept springing surprises as he benched former captain Nicolas Nkoulou, dropped leading striker Vincent Aboubakar and kept Clinton Njie, on loan from Tottenham Hotsour to Olympique Marseille, on the bench.

Cameroon has long been a team where key players like Samuel Eto’o, Roger Milla and Rigobert Song kept their places in the side even when they were long past their best.

Fans gave Broos the thumbs up on Sunday night and for Cameroon’s young Indomitable Lions, it was a moment of unexpected triumph in a tournament the country will host in two years’ time as defending champions.