The Frenchman has lost all moral and technical authority over the team following what analysts and commentators call “tactical blunders and questionable decision-making” and his own players have told him to his face in outpours at a series of crisis meetings since the team lost to Japan 1-nil in the World Cup opener on June 14 in Bloemfontein.
This means that the coach will today be presiding over a team not entirely chosen by himself.
In a series of meetings since the Japan defeat, we gathered from people who attended the meetings but are not authorized to speak on record, players have unbarred their minds in frankspeak at closed door forums in the presence of the sport minister and the football association president and former Lions captain Theophile Abega.
Disgruntled players have disapproved of the coach’s choice of players, his preferred system of play and harsh, “misguided and subjective rather than technically-based decisions” to sideline a key player like Alexandre Song in the game against Japan because of a personality clash with Eto’o.
Le Guen lined up the promising but inexperienced Joel Matip.
Questions were also raised over his malpositioning of Achille Emana, undisputed playmaker of the team, at redundant wing positions at midfield and attack.
Eto’o has generally been blamed for misdirecting the coach since he took over the team in July 2009, including dispossessing Rigobert Song of the captaincy band. a longserving, charismatic captain in the twilight of his brilliant career.
Players equally disagreed with Le Guen’s rigid 4-3-3 system, preferring the more flexible 3-5-2.
Also, oldguard Rigobert Song and Geremi Njitap disapproved of their benching in preference of inexperienced players when national pride and honour were in danger.
As a main outcome of the fracas, the entire corps of players were asked to propose a system of play and the oldguard, the (in)famous 1984 of R. Song, Njitap, Eto’o and Kameni met aside to propose a lineup for the Denmark do-or-die which they reportedly transmitted to the minister in a sealed envelop though Eto’o reportedly disassociated himself from the project.
Nevertheless, expect to see Njitap, Song and Kameni play against Denmark, from the start or at some point in the course of the game.
At the last crisis meeting in Durban Thursday before the press conference already reported, the show of reconciliation between Emana and Eto’o left many unconvinced, while those who spoke to other players like Alex Song and Mandjeck and witnessed dispeakable closed door scenes, speak of persistent dislike between Eto’o and Le Guen on the one hand and a good number of players including the aforesighted plus others like Assou Ekotto and Stephane Mbia on the other.
This despite testimonies that Eto’o apologized to Alex Song and told him he needed the younger Song for victory against Denmark.
Franklin Sone Bayen, on assignment in Pretoria, SA