Exclusive: Why Seedorf blundered at 2019 AFCON


Former Indomitable Lions defender Jules Denis Onana says the absence of good players was responsible for Cameroon’s debacle at the 2019 African Cup of Nations tourney in Egypt under Dutch tactician Clarence Seedorf.

The former AC Milan superstar replaced Hugo Broos, who led Cameroon to their first continental crown in 15 years in 2017. He was appointed by the Cameroon FA, Fecafoot on August 2018 and axed on July 2019 as the Lions failed to retain the continent’s coveted trophy.

Lodged in Group F in the tournament, the Central African nation finished second behind the Black Stars. They made an impressive start with a convincing 2-0 win against Guinea-Bissau, but rounded up the group stage with two goalless draws against Benin and Ghana who eventually topped the group. The 2017 AFCON winners crashed out of the tournament after a 3-2 defeat to arch-rivals Nigeria in the round of 16, despite making a scintillating comeback to lead the game at the break 2-1.

Seedorf’s botch during his reign as Lions head trainer has been heavily concomitant to his unfamiliarity with Cameroon football, Jules Onana told African Football HQ. The 1990 World Cup star, who made commendable contributions as the five time African champions became the first African team to reach the quarterfinals of the global football event, has revealed the former Dutch professional football player was short of a worthy squad to reflect his dogma.

“Seedorf could not, despite his desire to integrate himself within the team, read the potential of Cameroon football. Like any foreign coach, he put himself in the shoes of the one who came to teach Cameroonians how to play football. He did not stay long enough to understand the mentality of our football.”

“He also erred because he could not control his group, failing to understand it. To get the best out of the group, you have to know the mentality of the players and anticipate their reactions. Seedorf only discussed with a few people he thought were influential, instead of having discussions with people who are well versed with the squad”

The former Deportivo Coruna coach recorded four wins in 13 games. He drew five and lost four. The defeat to Nigeria in Alexandria in July 2019, triggered his demise from Cameroon barely 11 months after his appointment.

“A national team does not function like a club. He wanted to transform the way Cameroonians play, by asking them to imitate the European style of play; ball possession. He did not have the necessary staff. In the national team, you have to win no matter how good the game is. Seedorf wanted to make the team play according to his philosophy, without having the appropriate players”. Onana continued.

Onana, 56, retired in 2005 after a long career that saw him play in Cameroon, France and Indonesia.

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