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banner Thursday, 10 May, 2001, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Cameroon coach quits bitterly
Jean-Paul Akono
Jean-Paul Akono says he has spent too much time responding to public criticism
Cameroon coach Jean-Paul Akono has resigned after a public outcry followed the African champions' 2-0 loss to Angola on Sunday in Group A of the World Cup qualifiers.

Akono's predecessor, Frenchman Pierre Lechantre, has been re-appointed to the job by the Cameroonian FA as a "temporary" measure.

Public opinion has been manipulated by some people who wanted Lechantre back. Lechantre himself was behind this campaign
  Jean-Paul Akono
Lechantre had been one of Cameroon's most successful coaches, and led Cameroon to their Nations Cup triumph last year, but was replaced by Akono after the latter won Olympic gold.

Many fans had been asking for Akono's departure after a series of tight wins and some went as far as trying to attack his residence following last Sunday's defeat in Luanda, which is still highly unlikely to prevent the Indomitable Lions reaching their fourth successive World Cup Finals.

Too much criticism

Akono told the BBC that since his appointment he has pent too much time trying to deal with press and public criticism.

"Public opinion has been manipulated by some people who wanted Lechantre back. Lechantre himself was behind this campaign. I lived with that for seven months, and now I have had enough," says Akono.
Pierre Lechantre celebrating African Cup victory
Pierre Lechantre won the Nations Cup with the Indomitable Lions in Nigeria

"I was blamed for the Lions' bad results, but how can you have bad results when you keep winning games?"

After resigning, Akono says that despite his poor relationship with Lechantre he "wishes him all the best, every success".

"Cameroon need successes. Its football is very much appreciated around the world," added Akono.

Cameroon currently top Group A with a four-point gap over Angola and only two games to go.

The cold war between Akono and Lechantre became so frosty earlier this year that Sports Minister Bidoung Nkwatt had to step in and force the two to embrace each other in public and to promise to work together.

Cold war

After Akono's resignation, Lechantre told the BBC: "I don't want to react on Akono directly. I just want spirits to calm down.

Patrick Mboma with Parma
Mboma, along with Fo and Song, didn't play in Luanda.
"I want the Lions to be again the team that was feared everywhere. It has not been the case recently. The officials have taken their decision. Akono has to accept that. But I never did anything to undermine him.

"The decision to appoint me as technical director and for him to become national coach was never really accepted by the public.

Lechantre is now adamant he has accepted the national team coaching job, but only if he can work in the long term.

I want to be sitting on the bench at the next World Cup. I won't do it just for one or two games
  Pierre Lechantre
"I haven't yet discussed this so-called 'temporary' appointement. But I don't accept it. I've proved myself by winning the Nations Cup and I want to be sitting on the bench at the next World Cup. I won't do it just for one or two games."

Akono says he now wants to rest and is waiting for proposals from Japan and Turkey where he had some contacts before coaching the Lions.

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See also:

06 May 01 |  Africa
Angola shock Cameroon
26 Feb 01 |  Africa
Fans call for Akono to go
25 Feb 01 |  Africa
Cameroon edge out Zambia
02 Feb 01 |  Africa
Lechantre disenchanted
28 Feb 01 |  Africa
Cameroon secure Lions' share
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