GOAL | The former Indomitable Lions forward admits none of the squad members for the Sydney games knew they will win a medal
Patrick Mboma has revealed none of the players in the Cameroon squad for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney was certain they will return home with the trophy.
The Indomitable Lions shocked many on September 30, 2000, when they overpowered Spain 5-3 on penalties after coming from two goals down to force a 2-2 draw in normal time and clinch the nation’s first-ever gold at the Olympic Games in Austria.
Cameroon had beaten Chile 2-1 in the semi-finals to set up the final with Spain.
The 50-year-old has explained when leaving for Sydney the squad was not thinking of winning a medal and that he had bought a digital camera to go take pictures as he knew they were traveling as tourists.
“We weren’t thinking of winning a medal. I didn’t know everyone in the squad and I knew that some of our big-name players like Marc-Vivien Foe, Salomon Olembe and Rigobert Song weren’t being released by their clubs,” the 2000 African Player of the Year winner told the Fifa website .
“There were only five us in the squad who’d played at the Africa Cup of Nations six months earlier, including Samuel Eto’o. He was a player I knew I could link up with, but that wasn’t enough to make a team. We said to ourselves: ‘It’s going to be tough. We’re going down there to take photos’ [laughs].
“I went and bought a digital camera before we got on the plane. I was going as a tourist. I was excited about the chance to rub shoulders with all these global sports stars but I was soon to be disappointed because we weren’t staying in the Olympic Village.”
Asked to explain when the Cameroon squad realised they could end up winning a medal, Mboma said: “We grew in confidence slowly but surely. To begin with, we just tried to ensure we didn’t make fools of ourselves.
“We squeezed out of our group and came up against Brazil in the quarter-finals. We just said: ‘It’s been great to take part. Let’s try to keep our heads held high.”
On his goal against Brazil, Mboma said: “I can’t explain it to you but as soon as I put the ball down and took a step back I knew I was going to score. I’d scored a few in my career but I wasn’t [Sinisa] Mihajlovic or [Michel] Platini. That goal inspired us!”
Mboma further reveals beating Brazil inspired them to have the belief of returning home with a medal.
“Beating Brazil gave us so much confidence. We were all over them in the opening 20 minutes and played with real quality,” Mboma continued.
“The problem was we were without our two suspended defenders and our defence decided to play the offside trap. It was a disaster but our keeper, Carlos [Kameni], kept us in the match until we conceded an own goal with a little over 10 minutes remaining.”
During his career, Mboma played for Chateauroux, Paris Saint-Germain, Metz, Gamba Osaka, Cagliari, Parma, Sunderland, Al-Ittihad, Tokyo Verdy and Vissel Kobe before retiring on May 16, 2005.