The former Barcelona striker also re-lived his Olympic gold with Cameroon at the Sydney Olympics in 2000….
Legendary Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o has a huge wish for the 2022 World Cup, to be held in Qatar. And that is for his country to reach the final.
No African team has ever managed to go past the quarter-finals at a World Cup but Eto’o is hoping The Indomitable Lions can buck the trend in Qatar. Eto’o, who earned 118 caps for Cameroon, feels that the World Cup next year will be a special tournament.
He feels the proximity of the stadiums and the weather in Qatar during November will make it a great experience for fans. And Cameroon as well.
“I have no doubt that it will be the most beautiful World Cup ever organised. In my opinion, the next World Cup in Qatar will be the greatest event.And I have one wish – to witness a final featuring Cameroon versus Qatar for a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Eto’o, who is a Qatar Legacy Ambassador, told the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC).
“I would encourage everyone to come to Qatar for this special tournament. I hope fans don’t miss the chance to visit and watch two matches a day in the group stage. There are so many beautiful places to visit here in Doha. Fans can have an amazing holiday while also following their passion, football.”
He went on to add how perfect the tournament, hosted in the Middle-East for the first time ever, will be for fans and players alike.
“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.”
The 40-year-old, who has played for the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Inter Milan, is no stranger to winning major tournaments. He has won the Champions League thrice and scored in the finals on two occasions. But more importantly for his countrymen, Eto’o is well-remembered for his starring role in helping Cameroon win the Olympic gold at Sydney in 2000.
Cameroon beat Spain 5-3 on penalties after a 2-2 scoreline after extra-time. Incidentally, Eto’o had scored the goal that helped Cameroon draw level with Spain and had an extra-time effort chalked out for offside. He also converted a penalty in the shootout.
With the Tokyo Olympics set to start on Friday, Eto’o took the opportunity to remember his exploits 21 years ago.
“It was an incredible feeling, especially because we had some difficulties during the tournament. 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.”
He also highlighted their quarter-final game against Brazil, who had the likes of Ronaldinho in their roster, where they won 2-1 after extra-time, thanks to a golden goal.
“Yes, against Brazil, in the quarter-final when the match went into extra time with the golden goal rule. Brazil had a great team with players such as Ronaldinho and were the favorites 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. 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.”
Eto’o asserted that he will be keenly following the Olympics in Tokyo and will watch out for potential stars of the future emerging from the football tournament.
“Anyone who is passionate about sport will naturally follow the Olympic Games. It is a major sporting competition and those who love sport will not miss it. 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.
“The Olympics and the World Cup are real celebrations of sport where millions of dreams can come true,” he added.