The Three Lions and the Indomitable Lions: Italy World Cup 1990–Russia World Cup 2018: Cameroon and England football teams then and now.
Heartbroken fans in the UK and worldwide witnessed England’s 2018 World Cup dream brutally end after a semi-final defeat by Croatia. Just as brutally, Cameroon became the first African team to be knocked out of the tournament.
England might not have reached the World Cup final but Gareth Southgate’s squad raised the game by reaching the semi-final, something not achieved by the national team since 1990.
In that respect, on 11 July 2018, Prince William reacted to England’s World Cup loss in his first-ever tweet by expressing what almost every England fan was thinking:
“I know how disappointed @england must feel right now but I couldn’t be more proud of this team and you should hold your heads high. You’ve had an incredible #WorldCup, made history, and gave us fans something to believe in. We know there is more to come from this @england team.”
Even more brutally, formerly high-performing Cameroon was the first African side to crash out of the 2018 tournament.
As reported by Michael Madyira on 6th July 2018 in Why Africa Failed in the World Cup, Cameroon legend Patrick Mboma said, “Native African coaches are the right answer if the continent is to become a dominant force in world football.”
As a former Paris Saint Germain striker, Patrick Mboma featured for Cameroon at two World Cups and won an Olympic gold medal in the year 2000.
Why compare Cameroon to England when it comes to the FIFA World cup?
Italy 1990-Russia 2018: Cameroon and England’s parallel football fortunes.
Cameroon and England’s football fortunes became indelibly linked in a nail-biting Italy 199o quarter-final between ‘The Indomitable Lions’ and ‘The Three Lions’, which was ultimately decided on penalties.
But Cameroon’s Italy 1990 journey to the quarter-finals ensured that, from then on, teams from Africa were looked upon as genuine contenders.
Cameroon was Africa’s surprise package of 1990, just as England has proven the Western revelation of Russia 2018. That constant anxiety that there is something fundamentally wrong with English football has now been trounced by the national side’s exceptional –albeit thwarted– performance.
As a reminder for those who have been pessimistic about the state of English football, England invented football, and, some may argue, is now perfecting it. It started in England, and the World Cup will come home somehow.
Italy 1990 World Cup quarter-finals England v Cameroon
Very few games at the 1990 FIFA World Cup captured the imagination like the epic quarter-final between England and Cameroon.
That clash of the titans encounter brought Cameroon to be best remembered as the first African team to reach the quarter-finals.
Gone are the days when the Cameroon football team was proud to refer to England as more or less equally good at football. Cameroon has now been left far behind.
England was seven minutes from going out against Cameroon in the quarter-final.
Russia 2018 World Cup, Cameroon football team, where it went wrong
The lack of a native coach for some, crucial political turmoil with the Anglophone crises for others –just some of the reasons sought for Cameroon’s catastrophic exit from Russia 2018. But Cameroonians and Africans in general, are always good at finding excuses.
The Bridge Magazine’s favourite response to Panafricanists is: Africa should collaborate with the West in order to thrive. By ‘collaboration’ our editorial mostly means stop blaming colonisation and…, working hard, and learning from the best. Much of Africa’s problems are indeed down to colonialism, not simply historically, but also today through the exploitation of global capitalism some may argue.
However, in order to succeed it is better to shift your focus to positive thoughts. Negative thoughts drain you of energy and keep you from being in the present moment.
England has been through a lot of social and political turmoil since 1990, but look how far the ‘The Three Lions’ have come.
Success comes with hard work and discipline. You do not sit there and wait for it to happen, you need to fight for it. Although in capitalist society, ‘success’ doesn’t always come with ‘hard work and discipline’: we all know there are millions of families in the UK alone who, in spite of working hard, have to rely on food banks, because wages are so low and rents are so high.
But again, a positive attitude helps to cope more easily with the daily affairs of life.
Gone are the days when ‘the Indomitable Lions’ team of Cameroon was roaring across the World Cup pitch. A real wild cat can’t be tamed.
A lot of arguments can be made about the Cameroon football team’s failure to reach the 2018 World Cup finals. However, changes must be made to ensure their best young players are given the chance to play first-team football.
Meanwhile, The Bridge Magazine congratulates Gareth Southgate’s England football team for bringing the pride of football back home.