DAR ES-SALAAM- Tournament ambassador Samuel Eto’o was the most sought-after person by fans and media at the two-day Africa 5s Football Championship which climaxed in Dar es-Salaam, Tanzania yesterday.
The former Cameroonian striker only had 15 minutes for an interview at the tournament dubbed as the continent’s biggest amateur soccer event held at the Uhuru Stadium organised by Nile Special’s parent company Ab-Inev.
Eto’o spoke about a number of issues currently bossing the African football living room particularly the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) where he fancies his home nation to triumph during the June 21 - July 19 showpiece in Egypt.
“For me, Cameroon have the best team,” said Eto’o who won the Afcon in 2000 and 2002. The Indomitable Lions are the holders having lifted their fifth Afcon title in Gabon two years ago.
In Egypt, East Africa will have its biggest representation with Burundi on debut, Tanzania returning for the first time since 1980, Kenya back after a 14-year lull and Uganda Cranes making back-to-back appearances.
The former Real Madrid and Barcelona forward rallied on the Cecafa nations.
“They (Cecafa nations) are not like Cameroon, Nigeria or Egypt but this is a good opportunity for them to write their story,” said Eto’o who is the record top scorer in Afcon with 18 goals.
The 38-year-old then spoke in the same regard about Uganda and hosts Tanzania who were debuting at the Africa 5s.
Prior, Eto’o had also given his opinion on the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology set to be used at Afcon but has been a subject of debate after following controversy in the Caf Champions League final a week ago.
“It is a shame to see that about the final but the Caf president [Ahmad Ahmad] has a vision of changing everything (for better) in the game,” Eto’o said during the interview.
“Everyone has a responsibility. VAR is a law for Fifa and Caf has to follow it. The guy on the pitch has to do his job properly, everybody must play their role right because it is about African football,” he remarked.
Following a 1-1 first leg stalemate, Tunisian side Esperance were crowned champions with a 2-1 aggregate victory after they defeated Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca who refused to resume play after 60 minutes following VAR controversy.
Wydad had managed to reply to Youcef Belaili’s goal through Walid El Karti’s effort but it was ruled out for offside. Replay however showed El Karti was onside but referee Gambian Bakary Gassama refused to consult VAR to check the goal due to technical errors in the system and Wydad players boycotted the game in protest.
After a summit in Paris, France where Caf president Ahmad was reportedly quizzed by French authorities, Caf Executive Committee communicated this final will be replayed on a neutral ground.
Now at Qatar Sports Club, Eto’o believes he has a little time left to play.
“I am going to play for one more year and after that, I think I am old and need to rest. My ambition is to help Africa to develop and wherever I will be, I will help,” added the man who won three Uefa Champions Leagues titles in 2006, 2009 and 2010.
AFRICA 5S RESULTS
Uganda 5-0 ESwatini
Uganda 1-0 Zimbabwe
Uganda 1-0 Tanzania
Uganda 2-1 Zimbabwe
Uganda 1-1 Tanzania
Uganda 0-1 ESwatini