Eto'o's World-class tantrum
If African teams react as badly to criticism and pressure as Eto’o, they’re in big trouble
By MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency
The weeks leading up to the World Cup are a cornucopia of rumour, commentary and opinions.
Anyone who is anybody and everyone else who isn’t has an opinion, feeling or vision on what’s going to happen in South Africa.
With so much stuff flying around one has to be selective about what someone pays attention to and what goes in one ear and out the other.
Players and teams that can’t do that often face pressure of their own making.
One would think that an experienced international player such as Samuel Eto’o had learned that. The Inter Milan and Cameroon striker had a hissy fit recently when Cameroon soccer legend Roger Milla was critical of Eto’o’s performances with the national team.
Milla is older than dirt but has had his moments on the World Cup stage.
With four goals in five games at the age of 38 in the 1990 World Cup in Italy, Milla led Cameroon to the quarter-finals. It was the first African team to get that far.
Milla said that Eto’o had “brought lots to Barcelona and Inter Milan but never anything to the Cameroon team.”
Instead of letting it go with a simple ‘one man’s opinion,’ Eto’o decided to blow it out of proportion with a tantrum of infantile proportion.
“People should respect me and they must shut up, really shut up, because playing in the World Cup quarterfinals is not the same as winning the World Cup,” he ranted. “It is always before tournaments that bitter people wake up. What has he (Milla) done? He hasn’t won the World Cup ... And then you wonder: ‘Are they my people?’ Are they really my people?”
He wasn’t done yet. He is considering cutting his nose off to spite his face.
He said he might not play for his country again and that included South Africa.
“Is it worth me going to the World Cup?” he asked. “I’ve still got some days to think about it but I’ll see if my taking part is important because I don’t need this in my career.”
Take that Roger! Don’t you dare call me a quitter either or I will retire from the game.
A day doesn’t go by that some former player or coach remembers how much better times used to be and how much better they were than the teams and players of today.
Rashidi Yekini last played for the Super Eagles in the World Cup in France in 1998. Yekini still holds the scoring record for Nigeria.
Yekini unloaded on the Super Eagles.
“Most of the players in the present Eagles lack that commitment to take their individual game to the next level,” Yekini said. “They lack the passion to do something extra, something new and something special. It is only those that do new and special things in football that get special awards, mention and recognition.”
Talk about an indictment. Or maybe it’s simply someone else adding their two cents worth.
Yekini’s expectations for the team at the World Cup are low.
“Honestly, I’m not comfortable with our team. The real fighting spirit is gone. We struggle to win, we struggle to score and we even struggle to play well,” Yekini said.
The biggest problem for the Super Eagles is not their player but coach Lars Lagerback who wants to fit a square peg — boring defensive soccer — into a round hole.
But there is great pressure on these African nations. No longer are they an oddity at the World Cup. With the tournament on home soil, they are expected to do well.
That puts them under a microscope not something they are used to.
It’s a new game for the African teams and as of now, they are not handling it very well. There are those who predict that all six teams will not make it out of the group stages.
If they react to criticism and pressure the way Eto’o did, that may be just what happens.