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Road to 2022 Afcon: Douala to stage Lions game after 22-year wait without fans

By Beng Emmanuel 

Cameroon face Mozambique in one of match day three fixtures of the 2022 African Cup of Nations this Thursday November 12 at the Reunification Stadium in Douala,-the city’s first major international game in over two decades.  

The city last played host to an international football match twenty-two (22) years ago when Cameroon lost to Ghana 1-3 during the 2000 African Cup of Nations qualifiers in 1998. 

The game took place at the Reunification Stadium and had about 4000 fans in attendance. 

The Central African Nation eventually went on to qualify for the Afcon and won their third continental crown that year after post match penalty win against arch rivals Nigeria. 

Its tradition for the five time African Champions to play their home fixtures at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium where they remain unbeaten since 1984. 

How Covid-19 frustrated fans hope two decades after wait

The outbreak and inconveniences caused by the Coronavirus especially in football has left fans irritated but those in the Littoral region have a miserable tale to live with.  

Fans of the Indomitable Lions in Douala were hoping to roar their side to victory having been unable to cheer the men’s national team for more than twenty years now.  All this time, they travelled to Yaounde to watch games. But just when the wait for over, so they thought Covid snatch the occasion. 

Hosting the Cameroon-Mozambique clash means a lot for inhabitants of the Littoral region. Some of the nation’s football legends were either born here or learnt their trade  before their rise to stardom. 

 “The city of Douala is the hometown of Cameroonian football. The Indomitable Lions shouldn’t wait 22 years to play in this city. In principle, given the connection that Lions matches generate across Cameroon, we should tour at least the regional capitals, especially the city of Douala which has given everything to the Indomitable Lions,” Cameroonian sports journalist Paul Sabin Nana who covered the last game of the Indomitable Lions in Douala told lionindomptable.com, GinaInforms gathered from Mysoccer24. 

Douala, Cameroon’s economic capital is one of the city’s earmarked for the African Nations Football Championship (CHAN) next year. The reunification stadium like the Japoma Sport Stadium will host games of the continental football tournament which kick-offs on January 16.    

The game against Mozambique should have reawakened the passion for support but their aspiration sunk after government’s anti-covid measures were put in place. 

Prof Narcisse Moulle Kombi-Cameroon’s Sport and Physical Education Minister signed a release on Tuesday November 10, stating that the game will be played without fans. 

Sports Minister’s Press Release saying Game will I’ll not be open to the public

New guidelines from the Confederation of African Football CAF say that all matches must be played behind closed doors. But member associations can ask for special permission to have fans to watch the game. 

Cameroon is undefeated under Antonio Conceicao. The Portuguese tactician is poised to clinch his second consecutive win in the qualifiers after his triumph against Rwanda on match day two.  

The Lions are second of group F and are tied with current leaders Mozambique with four points each. Cameroon is already qualified as host of the 2022 African Cup of Nations.

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