Cameroon ban leaves qualification on a knife edge

No sooner were Cameroon’s World Cup qualification hopes given a rather fortuitous lifeline – their hopes of reaching Brazil were thrust back into serious jeopardy following FIFA’s decision to temporarily ban them from competing.

This ban comes as a result of government interference in the nation’s football associations (FECAfoot) elections. The Cameroonian authorities have reacted with confusion and denial to this decision – as a result they are set to appeal. Currently the way things stand there is now a realistic chance that this ban could cause the country to miss their final world cup second round qualification match with Libya – a match that will decide who progresses to the final qualification round.

In truth Cameroon are more than a little lucky to be in their current table topping position – for had Togo not fielded an ineligible player against them they would be in second place and needing to beat the Libyans rather than the draw they now require.

Togo comfortably beat Cameroon in the game in question yet their failing to play by the rules means the points went the other way. For Libya this ruling will feel a cruel blow given they had performed remarkably well to battle their way to top spot, only to see it taken away from them through no fault of their own. With the current table meaning they will need to repeat their earlier victory over Cameroon if they are to progress, The Libyan’s would not be forgiven for hoping the ban is upheld. After all it’s hard not to feel bad for them given how they have quite literally had top spot snatched away from them.

Even if the game does go ahead there is no guarantee that Cameroon will actually pick up the point they need, for this is not dominant sides of the 90’s and early 00’s. The once superpower nation of the continent failed to even make the previous two African Cup of Nations tournaments – whilst recent qualification results hardly suggest they will return to their best anytime soon. It is hard to pin point what has gone wrong; yes they don’t quite have the same quality as in previous generations, however they still possess a wealth of talent that most other African nations simply cannot match. Different coaches and personnel have been trialled yet nothing has been able to give the Indomitable Lions their roar back – with it proving impossible to form a highly functioning team out of the talent available.

Further to that this is a Libyan team that has a more than enough steely determination about it and as yet they are unbeaten throughout qualification – at times it has almost seemed that they are destined to complete a rather magical story and reach Brazil. Should Cameroon’s ban remain past the qualifier date it would certainly add weight to that believe and form another intriguing chapter in the story of their dramatic rise.

It remains to be seen how this current situation will develop and with African football you never can tell what is going to happen next, with the fact that there is still two months for things to be corrected at least providing Cameroon with hope. One thing is for certain though – things are never dull when it comes to football in Africa.