TThe male cult of the coach has reached new heights in Cameroon the place Rigobert Track’s face stares down from numerous roadside billboards and no present nationwide participant comes near rivaling the coach’s fame.
The tune actually exuded a definite aura when, fashionably late, he swept right into a media theater in Doha on Wednesday evening. Wearing a vibrant white tracksuit and with an equally vibrant white baseball cap – full with an outsized high – crowning his lengthy black dreadlocks, he appeared extra like a rock star stepping onto a stage than a typical soccer supervisor.
As the previous Liverpool and West Ham defender outlined his hopes for the Indomitable Lions’ opening group recreation towards Switzerland on Thursday, an apparently confused crowd took the chance to take countless footage of Track and his trademark grey goatee on their cellphones.
Undeterred by Switzerland’s place, 28 locations above Cameroon within the Fifa rankings, he was in excessive spirits and recommended a shock may very well be in retailer. “Switzerland will see our fireplace tomorrow,” he stated. “We do not thoughts the rankings, they’re solely on paper. Who knew Saudi Arabia would beat Argentina? We’re absolutely conditioned and targeted. Our pedigree will probably be recognized tomorrow.”
Poor Samuel Oum Gouet, the 24-year-old midfielder with Belgium’s Mechelen sitting subsequent to his supervisor, who barely obtained a phrase in edgewise. Sure, when a journalist requested Gouet a uncommon query, each supervisor and participant burst out laughing.
After the briefing drew to an in depth, Track stepped down from the stage and stood patiently, oozing allure, as reporters and event officers lined as much as shake his hand, pose for selfies subsequent to him and have a small chat with a person who performed in 4 World Cups.
It appeared laborious to credit score that there was a second, six years in the past, when every thing stopped for the Cameroon supervisor. At solely 40, Track collapsed with a mind hemorrhage and was in a coma for 2 days. When he emerged, docs at Yaoundé’s emergency hospital determined his mind aneurysm required specialist therapy in France and he spent the following six months in Paris recuperating earlier than returning to Cameroon and finally resuming his teaching profession later in 2017.
Quick ahead to February this 12 months, and a coach who spent the final 5 years with the Cameroon FA succeeded António Conceição as head coach of the Indomitable Lions.
Though Track’s appointment got here after an specific order from Cameroon’s president, Paul Biya, it appeared a watershed second for a rustic that has imported an extended line of international coaches – Conceição is Portuguese.
Track’s critics, and there are some, might argue that he lacks frontline managerial expertise and is simply too relaxed for the function, however the majority appear eager to supply Cameroon’s most adorned participant the advantage of the doubt. Furthermore, that outwardly relaxed demeanor doesn’t, no less than up to now, appear incompatible with motivating gamers to succeed in new heights as they put together to face not solely Switzerland however Serbia and Brazil in a difficult Group G.
Excessive-pressing and attack-minded, notably alongside the flanks, Cameroon have, thanks partly to Track’s pulling energy, developed a useful behavior of convincing twin nationals to decide on to play for them. By selecting to show his again on France, the nation the place each his personal and his mom had been born, Brentford ahead Bryan Mbeumo epitomizes this pattern.
“We love music and we like to bounce; it is unimaginable in our dressing room,” says the previous France youth worldwide. “It’s so humorous.”
Whereas Mbeumo’s attacking prowess improves Cameroon, their brightest expertise lies in central midfield the place Napoli’s André-Frank Zambo Anguissa has rediscovered the expertise he apparently missed throughout a earlier stint with Fulham.
A part of his remit is to assist create targets for Karl Good Toko Ekambi who, regardless of working primarily out broad on the left, has scored 38 targets in 108 video games for Lyon and in addition registered 5 at this 12 months’s Africa Cup of Nations.
Tellingly, Mbeumo was recruited over dinner in London by Samuel Eto’o who had flown in specifically from his West Central African dwelling the place, as head of the Cameroon Soccer Affiliation, the previous Barcelona, Internazionale, Chelsea and Everton striker is now Track boss .
“We will Qatar to win the World Cup,” says Eto’o, undeterred by Cameroon’s document of solely as soon as progressing from the event’s group stage (at Italia 90 once they misplaced a quarter-final towards Sir Bobby Robson’s England after additional time). “The opposite groups do not have the identical magic as us.”
Though Cameroon solely certified for Qatar by the enamel, narrowly beating Algeria in a play-off, Eto’o has stepped up the strain on Track by suggesting an all-African last is feasible. “We’ve not at all times proven our greatest face within the World Cups,” says one man who’s rumored to generally succumb to the temptation to meddle within the coach’s workforce choice. “However now African groups are prepared. Cameroon wins the ultimate towards Morocco.
At the least Track appears to be fully on board. “We’re on a mission,” he stated Wednesday. “And we all know methods to win.”
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