‘Africa Cup brings everyone together’

‘Africa Cup brings everyone together’

Ajax’s Eyong Enoh, from Cameroon, is feeling good in subtropical Rio de Janeiro. “The weather here is nice and warm and the trainings are intense, but that’s exactly what we need for the second half of the season.”

Frank de Boer’s team has been in Rio de Janeiro for two full days, but they haven’t had time (yet) to do any sightseeing. Eyong Enoh is still hoping to see some of the metropolis. “It’s my first time in Rio. From what I’ve seen so far, I think it’s a beautiful city. The beaches are nice and people are friendly. I hope we’ll have some time to get to see the city a bit.”

The Ajax player has just finished working himself up into a concentrated sweat at the training complex of Brazilian top club Flamenco. “Preparations are going well”, he says. “The practices are tough in this warm weather, but that intensity is just what we need for second half of the season. We need to work hard, because when we resume competition play, we have an important match right away - the Klassieker. We need to prepare ourselves well for this key duel against Feyenoord.”
Cameroonian international Enoh is watching on the eve of the start of the Africa Cup 2013. Cameroon isn’t participating. For the second time in a row, Cameroon hasn’t qualified for the biggest football tournament in Africa. The Untamable Lions were surprisingly disqualified by Cabo Verde. It was over and out for Cameroon, and Cabo Verde makes its debut in the big tournament on the opening day against host South Africa.

“It’s disappointing that we didn’t qualify”, says Enoh. “Most people who know Cameroon as a football country see it as a big disappointment that the team didn’t qualify for the second time in a row. On the other hand, the message is clear: we need to make some changes. If you look at the past results, Cameroon is one of the most famous national team in Africa. But in football, it’s the present that counts, not the past. We need to get things straightened out so we can once again be the team that the fans expect us to be.”

One of the players who Enoh will see in action is fellow Ajax player Thulani Serero. The South African international has been selected by national coach Gordon Igesund. Enoh: “I haven’t spoken with him yet, but I’m definitely going to call him and wish him good luck.” Serero will play against Cabo Verde, Angola and Morocco in the group phase. Enoh estimates that Morocco is one of the main title contenders of the continental tournament. “Just like Ghana and Zambia, they have a strong team.”

Despite the fact that Cameroon won’t travel to South Africa for the African Cup of Nations, the 26 year old Ajax player will be following the tournament closely. As of Saturday, January 19th, Enoh will be glued to the television. “The Africa Cup is an inspiring, interesting tournament. Everyone is enthusiastic about it. During Africa’s biggest tournament, it’s nice to see all of the big African players, who normally play in competitions abroad, playing with local footballers. The Africa Cup brings all nations together.”
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