Cameroon release back to the pitch schedule

Cameroon FA president, Seidou Mbombo Njoya (in a suit), poses for photos with members of the National Technical Directorate and some Elite One and national selections coaches after opening a five-day refresher course for coaches in the country on July 27, 2020. 

Photo credit: Ndi Eugene Ndi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The trainer of the Intermediate Lions of Cameroon, Yves Clement Arroga said the five-day training will help him prepare his boys for the African Nations Championship (Chan).

In Yaounde

The Cameroonian domestic leagues will kick-off for the 2020/21 season in September or early October depending on how the situation in the country in regards to the risk posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, football authorities have announced.

The President of the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT), Seidou Mbombo Njoya, said that the Cameroon Professional Football Championship - the Elite One and Two - will resume while respecting certain protocols.

“The Covid-19 situation warrants us to look for options,” Mbombo Njoya said.

The Cameroon FA boss was speaking as he opened a refresher course for head coaches of national teams and professional football league clubs at the Caf Excellence Centre in Mbankomo on the outskirts of Yaounde.

Cameroon FA president, Seidou Mbombo Njoya, speaks after opening a five-day refresher course for coaches in the country on July 27, 2020.

Photo credit: Ndi Eugene Ndi | Nation Media Group

The federation is offering refresher courses to 26 coaches - 18 Elite One and eight from national selections in view of the planned resumption of football activities in the country.

“It's a good thing to get together as coaches, to discuss the difficulties we may encounter in the practice of the profession,” said Francois Omam-Biyik, deputy coach of the national football team, the Indomitable Lions and one of the trainees.

The trainer of the Intermediate Lions of Cameroon, Yves Clement Arroga said the five-day training will help him prepare his boys for the African Nations Championship (Chan).

The competition, which exclusively features players from their respective domestic leagues was supposed to be staged between March and April this year in Cameroon but was postponement 2021 due to Covid-19.

The president of the Cameroon FA said the stakeholders aware of coronavirus guidelines put in place by the government to limit the spread of the virus.

“The measures make it extremely difficult for us. You cannot organise a match with less than 200 people. We will work with authorities and try to get an exception to this (public gathering prohibition) measure. Even if we have to organise matches behind closed doors, it is good to have at least 200 people,” Mbombo Njoya said, though he failed to convince Yaoundé authorities to allow the remaining matches of the 2019/20 Caf Champions League to go on.

The medical commission of the Cameroon FA met on July 17 in Yaoundé to work on a proposed health protocol to be implemented when the championship eventually resumes.

“We are not going to play football in order to make people happy. Our work is guided by the recommendations of Fifa, Caf, WHO and the government for a return to sport activities,” Dr Jean Marc Ngalle Bonjo, chair of the commission told reporters.

Cameroon confirmed its first coronavirus case in March, and by July 27, the country had 16,708 cases, 385 deaths and 14,539 recoveries, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Balls in Cameroon have “been in confinement” just like players, since the month of March, when the government took the decisions to shut down all sporting activities in the country as part of a raft of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.

In May, FECAFOOT officially terminated the domestic league and declared then 18-team Elite One league leaders, PWD of Bamenda champions. The top-tier league was preparing for Round 29 at the time.

PWD of Bamenda - who will represent Cameroon in the Caf Champions League - had 47 points by Round 28, one ahead of second-placed Coton Sports of Garoua who will represent the country in the Caf Confederation Cup.

Some players of the professional league have received the news of the announced resumption with mixed feelings.

PWD of Bamenda attacker, Owen Mbeh Mikel Ndze said he is happy that finally he will be joining his teammates again to do what they like doing—playing football, but expressed fear they may be exposed to the deadly virus.

“We have not trained, talk less of playing together as a team because of the coronavirus pandemic. We had to respect government measures and also stay safe from the virus,” Ndze said.

“I have been training alone and sometimes I join some quarter guys and play with them just to keep fit. We will need more health personnel to do screening of players and it will be good for authorities to ensure all pitches are disinfected because the number of Covid-19-related deaths are scary,” the attacker said.

Besides football, authorities are also contemplating resuming volleyball in the country.

Analysts agree the resumption of sporting activities, especially football could be a dangerous recipe for disaster.

“The Covid-19 spike among players could get worse than the aggravating situation of the country in general,” said Frankline Sone Bayen, football analyst and editor of This is Sport Magazine.

“Elsewhere, they resumed games only after stringent implementation of barrier measures led to the flattening of the COVID-19 curve. In Cameroon, the curve is shooting up. Government measures are weak and half-hearted.”

Mbombo Njoya had disclosed at a press conference last week that the FA received $1.5 million (Sh150 million) from World football governing body, Fifa as special assistance to help cushion the football fraternity from the impact of Covid-19.

He said at a July 16 press conference that 85 per cent of the cash has been allocated to clubs while 15 per cent is being for administrative purposes.

At the National Olympic and Sports Committee of Cameroon, officials were discussing with those at the Ministry of Sports and Physical Education on the impact of the pandemic on athletes and international competitions.

The committee, an official said, was seeking strategies in maintaining Cameroonian athletes in top form for future competitions while respecting measures to curb the spread of the virus.