'In every town you have at least one or two academies for young players' – Cameroon coach Emmanuel Ndoumbe Bosso

The Local Lions coach took some time off his busy schedule and answered the questions put forth by Goal.com...

Emmanuel Ndoumbe Bosso has been entrusted the job to coach the Local Lions, a side which comprises only players who ply their trade in the native country. Denis Lavagne meanwhile is in charge of the Indomitable Lions.

Bosso, who is also a coach with Young Sport Academy Bamenda, will have former Cameroon International Ndep Akim as his assistant, with the duo having been at the helm of the local team since February 2011, when they took the team to the African Championship of Nations (CHAN) which was scheduled from 4 to 28 February 2011 in Sudan.

Bosso’s side are the overwhelming favourites and the big draw of the Nehru Cup in this edition. While as mentioned above, they have a squad full of inexperienced, local lads, the gap between them and the other teams in the competition is huge and they should still win the competition with plenty to spare.

Could you explain us the concept of 'The Local Lions' which is the home-based national side? How helpful it has been to unearth talent in your country?

We realized that to play for the country, you must be a professional and play in the top local league. Otherwise the local league will also lose its value. There were a lot many homegrown players in the local league, so we created another team of homegrown players playing in the local league for the national team, acting also in many ways as a feeder to the first team.

Three years ago, the first African Champions League for homegrown players was held in Ivory Coast. Eight countries participated there. We were this close to winning it against Angola last year but lost out on penalties.

Many of the local homegrown players who have developed through this system were given a chance by the first team coach in the main team, and some of his recommendations are here today playing in the tournament.

How many tournaments do the Local Lions play in a year?

There is one major regional tournament in Central Africa called CEMAC, which we participate in preparation for the CHAN or Champions African League in 2014. This tournament is for players playing in the local league, as the system of homegrown player leagues has spread to other parts of Africa beyond Cameroon.

Wherever the entire Cameroon first team cannot participate in entirety, this team participates in such tournaments, as we have done recently in South Africa, Vietnam, Indonesia and now India.

Could you name a few players who starred for the Local Lions and went on to star for the senior national side (which includes the players playing across the globe)?

A player like Pierre Wome, who has played across the major European leagues, is back today playing in the Cameroon local league. In fact, I invited him to play for this tournament too but he apologized for his inability to come as he chose to play the upcoming match against Cape Verde early next month.

Apart from Wome, Oyongo is a player playing with Cotonsport in the local league and also Feudgou who is a goalkeeper.

How big is Samuel Eto'o in your country and some other icons in your nation?

Eto’o today is like Roger Milla in the country. In today’s date, he is as big an icon as Milla. He is hugely appreciated for his talent and also for the monies he attracts, proving that there is sufficient quality in the country to become a great player globally.

What do people think of Eto'o's move to Russia?

This brings about a lot of discussion in Cameroon as the people feel that his level of play will reduce after the move. They feel he did not account for the loss of competition when he moved to Anzhi – it was like going from a major tournament like the Champions League to a local league. We rate Champions League football very high, and moving from Barcelona to Anzhi was not seen as a move that would sustain his high level of play. The bigger problem is that there is no media to bring out whats going on there either.

He is a great player and he will be playing for the national team again early next month after serving his suspension. He has promised that if people believed he was different now, he will prove on the pitch that he is the same Eto’o.

How are youngsters groomed back home? From what age are the kids trained? Do have a lot of academies in your country?

There are many academies for youngsters in Cameroon. In every town you have at least one or two academies for young players to develop and play in the regional league. The gradual development players takes place from the academy and football centers on to playing for the regional league. The graduation from the regional league goes on to Elite 2 and then Elite 1, which is the highest or Premier League of Cameroon.

These players are mostly from the Elite 1 level and you can see for yourself and judge whether the quality of players you see are good or not.

Your team looked a little tired in the second half. How long did you prepare for the competition?



We were not even confirmed if this was the final team for the tournament and I have had roughly two weeks for preparations. So I have had two weeks to prepare for the tournament and I spent one week bringing the players together to train and one week in training and acclimatizing to these conditions.

Tell us a bit about your local league? How professional is it and any future plans to develop it further?

We now have Elite 1 League which is a culmination of many efforts to professionalize the current system of football in Cameroon. It is still a semi-professional league but we are moving towards complete professionalization in the near future. There are newer aspects being brought into the league to professionalize it further, but there is still so much more to inculcate before we can call it fully professional. The quality of players has increased and the local leagues has helped us discover so many new players. Then, playing in tournaments such as these helps our development further.

With proper financial investments things will improve even further. The government is making the effort to provide and invest the money in the right way to establish  a more professional league and structure to football in the country.

Who are the star players in the present squad, who he thinks, can break into the senior squad?

We have videos of all the matches here and when I return to Cameroon I will share the videos and discuss the players with the Senior team coach. He will see all the players and that is why I am giving everyone a chance to play.

Our captain, Bebey, is one of the senior members of this team. He was one of the Local Lions who played for Cameroon at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Players like Moundi (#4, Center Back), Eloundo (#9) who is with the U-17 National team, Moumasa who plays in the left wing, has played for 2/3 years with the first team.

Kingue Mpondo (#17, Defensive Midfield), has played in Israel and Russia. He is a senior member of this team too, and was from time to time called up to the first team even before he went to Israel. Our goalkeeper, Ngome, has also been called up to Sr. NT camps.

Your expectations from the Nehru Cup

I can say that it’s a challenge as it is what they were expecting from the first team to do here and they are expecting me to do it now! It’s a challenge as the expectations are those of the ‘Lions’ and I have to go back to the country with something they all have to appreciate. Whether that is to fight, to battle, to reach the final… we will see what happens.

The tournament has been very well organized, apart from the rain which somewhat played spoilsport. The Cameroon delegation is surprised and glad at the quality of accommodation and everything around the football. We are sure that in few years India will become a nation known for football at the global level. The infrastructure is good (very nice stadium) so what remains is just to prepare youth and bring them to football because it’s still mostly about cricket. Even on TV they are always showing cricket!

And we hope to be here in two years again, but this time with the likes Roger Milla, Eto’o, Rigobert or Alex Song, Geremi Njitap!

The interview was facilitated by Libero Sports India and Mr. Edgard Nuentsa from the Cameroon National team delegation. Libero Sports India (the first and the only football consultancy in India) had secured Cameroon National team's participation for the Nehru Cup 2012

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