Eto’o Recalls Sydney 2000 Gold Medal Win

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Eto’o Recalls Sydney 2000 Gold Medal Win
Chinedu Ibeakanma
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Slightly over two decades after  Cameroon followed Nigeria to win a back-to-back  Olympic soccer gold medal for Africa, Samuel Eto’o Fils , the four-time African Footballer of the Year,  has yet described his country’s  conquest at Sydney 2000 as unforgettable.

indeed   Africa and the world was  Cameroon’s oysters  in 2000 after the Indomitable Lions stunned Nigeria to win the Africa Cup of Nations in Lagos  and completed their amazing year  with the soccer gold medal in Sydney.

“It was an incredible feeling, especially because we had some difficulties during the tournament,” the Qatar 2022 World Cup Legacy Ambassador explained  as  all eyes  are  set on the ‘land of the rising sun’ for the  delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

He continued: “ I want to take this opportunity to say thank you again to all my teammates, my ”fellow soldiers”, during this tournament. Because it was really tough – but in the end we won the gold medal by beating Spain despite trailing by two goals to nil in the final.

“I thought I had scored the winning goal in the last few seconds of extra-time but the flag went up for offside. Thankfully, we won the penalty shootout 5-3 to win the first ever Olympic gold medal in any sport for Cameroon.

“ To have the privilege to be part of such a historic moment for my country at an early stage in my career was really special and something I will never forget. “

Eto’o equally recalled the tricky tie against Brazil in the quarter-final, adding it took more than the agility of the Indomitable Lions to preyed  on the  Samba Boys who were  the tournament’s favourites.

“Brazil had a great team with players such as Ronaldinho and were the favourites to win the tournament; not many people fancied us to beat Brazil, but we always believed, even when we had two players sent off, meaning we played extra time with just nine players,” Eto’o recalled with glee. “In the second half of extra time, Modeste Mbami scored the winning goal that sent us through to the next round and kept our dream of creating history alive.

“I will always remember the moment when Modeste scored. We all began to run after him to celebrate. While eight or nine of us all chased after him, the Brazilians put the ball back in the centre circle, believing the match would continue.

“But the game was over and we had qualified with the golden goal. To win an Olympic gold medal was really special and is something I will always treasure.”

A consummate sports aficionado himself, Eto’o said he would be paying more than usual  attention to the Olympics Games in Tokyo, even as he relishes the prospect of the three  continental flag bearers in the men’s football event.

He said :“I will be watching the athletics, swimming…there are so many sports to follow. The Olympics is the pinnacle for sport in general. For footballers we all want to be at a World Cup, which is the biggest event for us, but for other sports, it’s all about the Olympic Games.

“The football tournament at the Olympics will always have a special place in my heart having won the tournament with Cameroon in 2000. With the teams restricted to using mostly players that are under 23, it is a great opportunity to develop younger players and give them an opportunity to represent their country at a major international tournament.

“The Olympics has helped create many stars of the future so I will of course be watching in the hope that we see some exciting young players make a name for themselves.

“ I am looking forward to seeing Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) , South Africa and Egypt, who will be representing Africa. Hopefully they can perform well and do their countries proud at the tournament.”

Yet away from the football tournament at the Olympics in Tokyo, Eto’o is eagerly looking forward to next year’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar, adding he would be most pleased if his adopted host country faced his native Cameroon in the tournament’s Final Match.

“I have no doubt that it will be the most beautiful World Cup ever organised,”  Eto’o  who was the youngest player  at the France’1998  World Cup  after he star for Cameroon in a 3-0 loss to Italy  at the age of  17 years and three months. “And I have one wish – to witness a final featuring Cameroon versus Qatar for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“I would encourage everyone to come to Qatar for this special tournament. We have so much to offer here and I hope fans don’t miss the chance to visit and watch two matches a day in the group stage. “That is something so unique that they can tell their grandchildren – that’s if they don’t bring their grandchildren with them!

“There are so many beautiful places to visit here in Doha. Fans can have an amazing holiday while also following their passion, football. The weather in December in Qatar is usually around 20 degrees, so it will be perfect conditions for the players, but also for the fans, who I’m sure will have an amazing time exploring Qatar during the tournament.”

Source: The Nation

This post was written by Chinedu Ibeakanma.

The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.

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