Cameroon go out with a whimper

By Gregory Mthembu-Salter in Cape Town
Posted on Friday, 25 June 2010 09:51

Gregory Mthembu-Salter watched an insipid performance in Cape Town by the Indomitable Lions, who did not do themselves proud.

There has been much talk of pride this week. As one team after another has crashed out, a critical question each time has been whether in their defeat they did themselves and their country proud.

With France and Italy, the answer has been a clear cut ‘no’. With Bafana Bafana, on the other hand, my sense is that their last game redeemed them. The team delivered a convincing win against the abject French, as a result failing to go through on goal difference alone.

I watched the game in my local community centre, which was packed for the occasion, and the general consensus afterwards was that even though South Africa had again squandered far too many good chances, overall it was a spirited performance that had indeed done the country proud.

Footage from Lagos suggests the main feeling after Nigeria’s failure to go through to the last 16 was intense agony. At least they put in a strong effort in their last match, securing a 2-2 draw against South Korea. But too many chances were wasted, including Yakubu’s ghastly miss in front of goal, surely one of the worst in the history of the tournament.

Which brings us to Cameroon. Two defeats before last night’s match meant they were already eliminated, so all there was to play for against the Netherlands was pride. But what did we get at Green Point?

An insipid, feeble, unadventurous performance that shamed the players and can have brought no comfort to their country.

Just why were Cameroon so pathetic? Despondent Cameroonians I asked as they were leaving the stadium last night, surrounded by a sea of exuberant orange-clad Dutch supporters, weren’t sure. Perhaps the team had lost faith in themselves, offered one.

But it didn’t look like that from the stands. It looked like they just could not be bothered. No doubt Cameroonians will make their feelings known when the team slinks home today, bottom of their group and with no points.

For those of us still here, we are hoping against hope that Côte d’Ivoire can deliver a miracle today to stay in, and getting in some early prayers and libations for Ghana’s monster clash with the USA tomorrow. The struggle continues.

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