Cameroon's 'Lions' achieve the impossible dream with a ticket to Men's World Championship
Lausanne, Switzerland, February 19, 201 4 - Having
come through a real qualifying thriller in their capital Yaounde to secure
their ticket to the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship Poland 2014,
Cameroon’s volleyballers waved their national flag proudly as they danced around
the packed hall in front of their adoring fans.
Among those sharing the outpouring of great joy was Adoum Garoua, the country’s sports minister, and the famous Roger Milla, African footballer of the last century. They were present in the hall to congratulate Jean- Patrick Ndaki Mboulet and company in a clear statement of just how important this triumph is for the entire country. Equally important was the announcement from Garoua that the team and the Cameroon Volleyball Federation were to receive the equivalent of about US$100,000 in support.
“I came on behalf of the
government, the President of the Republic, and on behalf of other Cameroonians
to tell you congratulations,” Adoum Garoua told the players and their coaching
staff in the locker room.
For long periods of the qualifying campaign, it did not look as though there was going to be such a happy ending for the national volleyball team. After a laborious 3-1 opening win against Nigeria, the hosts and favourites suffered a surprising 3-1 defeat against Rwanda on day two of the qualifying tournament. “I hardly slept after that loss. I just watched the video of the match against Rwanda over and over,” said coach Peter Nonnenbroich, highlighting the severity of the situation. “My guys found it difficult to cope with the pressure in the first couple of matches. However, when it was all or nothing, they were on the ball. The emotion shown by the players and fans was incredible.”
Cameroon beat the previously
unbeaten Algerians 3-0 (28-26, 25-21, 25-15). Despite this win, the World Championship
ticket still appeared to be out of reach, until Nigeria came to their rescue on
the final match day.
The team made history at the last championships in Italy four years ago. The crowd favourites overcame Australia 3-1 to claim the first ever victory for a central African country at a World Championship, progressing to the next round in the process. This year’s finals in Poland could see a repeat of that duel with Australia. As the third highest-ranked African team in the world, Cameroon looks likely to play against the hosts Poland, Argentina, Serbia, Australia and Venezuela in Pool A.
However, that will only be the case if the best-placed African team in the world rankings, Tunisia, qualifies as expected. Tunisia is both the host and hot favourite at the last African qualifying tournament from March 2 to 8, when they will battle it out against Seychelles, Congo Brazzaville, Senegal and Niger for a ticket to the World Championship.
Kenya is currently hosting
the first women’s contest for the African tickets to FIVB Volleyball Women’s
World Championship Italy 2014, as Nairobi welcomes Seychelles, Uganda, Tunisia,
Senegal, Mozambique and Cape Verde.
Currently 18 of the 24 teams for the FIVB Volleyball Men’s
World Championship Poland 2014 have been confirmed: Bulgaria, Serbia, Germany,
Belgium, Finland and France qualified at the beginning of this year.
Cameroon have already secured their place at the
highlight of the season. This is all the more remarkable, as the team had to
overcome some major difficulties during their preparations for the qualifying
The Cameroonians now have their sights set on achieving the impossible at the highlight tournament of the volleyball season in Poland. As sports minister Garoua rightly noted, “In sport, it is a matter of believing in yourself.”
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