28, March 2022
Rigobert Song is a legend in Cameroonian football.
The charismatic former Indomitable Lions captain has 137 appearances under his belt and is the most capped Cameroonian, having represented the country from 1993 to 2010.
Song is one of only three players in Africa to have played in four different AFCON finals—1994, 1998, 2002, and 2010.
He also featured at four different World Cup finals. His legendary status in Cameroon is undeniable.
That being said, that status might suffer irreversible damage.
The 45-year old was appointed head coach of the national team by the order of the country’s President, Paul Biya, shortly after the AFCON 2021 finals—a move that was ratified by Song’s friend, former teammate and now Cameroon Football Federation president, Samuel Eto’o.
Very few people questioned Song’s appointment considering his reputation in Cameroonian football, but the move was a surprise considering all that his predecessor, Antonio Conceicao had achieved with the country’s national team.
The Indomitable Lions finished third in the 33rd edition of the continental showpiece.
Conceicao not only led Cameroon to an AFCON bronze medal, but also to the World Cup qualifying play-offs.
Song was appointed just 24 days before Cameroon battled the Desert Foxes of Algeria in the decisive World Cup qualifier play off, with a place at the global spectacle in Qatar up for grabs.
It was simply a gamble, but one many felt was worth it.
Song’s mission was clear: to guide the Indomitable Lions to the World Cup finals.
They were beaten by Algeria in the first leg last night, with Islam Slimani’s solitary strike on the stroke of half-time being decisive at the Doulala Stadium.
That result sent the Cameroonian football fraternity into panic mode.
There are already conclusions that the Eto’o-led administration pressed the self-destruction button when they appointed Song.
Of course, some Cameroonians will call for patience, just as the Senegalese nation did with Aliou Cisse, but can that tolerance come at the expense of World Cup qualification?
If by any chance, Cameroon fails to overturn the first leg in Algiers next Tuesday, will Song’s reputation not suffer?
Source: Soccer 24