They ached, cursed, and many actually walked away from their TV sets in the football crazy Yaounde, last night as Cameroon trailed Zambia for much of the game. The suspense could not have been more intense for millions of football loving fanatics who watched Cameroon edge Zambia 3-2 in an epic African Cup of Nations thriller.
Thousands of fans watching the game from Yaounde carried a bad gut feeling throughout the game, as the Indomitable Lions tried to level scores with the Chipolopolos of Zambia for most of the game. James Mulenga’s goal at the 7th minute again exposed the defensive weakness of Cameroon, led by ageing skipper Rigobert Song.
A goal that reminded many of the day one, painful loss to Gabon 1-0 after a first-half goal had sealed the game. This time thousands gathered at the fan park on the May 20 Avenue in Yaounde prayed and hoped this was not another defeat in the hands of another lowly-seeded side.
Frank Emmanuel, a supporter draped in Cameroon’s green, red, yellow spent most of the game on his knees, in prayer, and was in tears when at half time Cameroon seemed unlikely to keep pace with the fleet-footed and younger Zambians.
Midway into the second half, a fumble by the Zambian keeper on an early cross from Geremi Njitap, gave Cameroon the most unexpected come-back imaginable. Moments later it was Samuel Eto’o who benefitted from a cross by Samen a Tchoyi that caused panic in the Zambian defence to put Cameroon up 2-1. It was edge of the sit stuff for thousands of fans in Yaounde. Girls ran wild, waving flags they had for so long held down in shame. Boys pulled off their t-shirts in defiance, and whistle blowers called for more goals.
Moments later, the Zambian striker Mulenga came from behind to outrun veteran defender Rigobert Song again, forcing goal-keeper Idriss Carlos Kameni to the rescue. Penalty. Against Cameroon, and the joy suddenly turned to pain again. Zambian captain Christopher Katongo took the penalty coolly, beating Kameni, 2-2.
Cameroonians were again last of the undecided Group D, in which all bookmakers has put them favourites in front of Tunisia and Gabon, nut Cameroonians were staring at a likely first round exit in the face again. At the 85th minute another cross in the Zambian defense was met by the towering Idrissou Mohamadou who earned cult worship and a hero status as his header ended up in the Zambian goal. Cameroon 3, Zambia 2, Yaounde had seen it all in one night.