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Last Updated: Monday, 30 August, 2004, 11:13 GMT 12:13 UK
Cameroon derby loses its shine
Martin Etonge
BBC Sport, Yaounde

The Canon Yaounde line up
Canon Yaounde are struggling in the Cameroon Super League

Cameroon's biggest domestic fixture between Yaounde's arch-rivals Canon and Tonnerre took place on Sunday but it failed to attract the attention of yesteryears.

In times past, this clash, which Tonnerre won 1-0, would have been a top-of-the-table affair and possibly a title decider.

But this year, the old foes are near the bottom of Cameroon's eight-team Super League.

The clubs drop in form means the game attracts little attention from the media and fans.

Both clubs once produced some of the biggest names in Cameroonian football.

The African Footballer of the Century, Roger Milla, played for Tonnerre, while Canon can boast such names as Emmanuel Kunde, Jean-Manga Onguene and Theophile Abega, who is now the club's general manager.

Even though the two clubs dominated Cameroonian football throughout the 70's and 80's, they have lost their grip on the local scene over the last 15 years.

Action in a Canon-Tonnerre game
The Yaounde derby fails to attract the big crowds it used to

Financial problems and poor management have seen Canon win just one league title in the last ten years while Tonnerre's best finish since 1988 was as runners-up in 2001.

Canon were once a dominant force throughout Africa, lifting the continental title three times in the 1970's, and Tonnerre claimed the Cup Winners' Cup in 1975.

Since then, Canon's best effort on the continent was losing in the final of the Cup Winners' Cup in 2000, while Tonnerre managed to finish as runners-up in the Caf Cup in 2002.

In recent months, Canon's fortunes have taken a further blow with Abega being banned from football matches in Cameroon by Fecafoot, the country's football federation.

In the past, Abega had been accused of poor management, which led to several rich financiers turning their backs on the club.

This has taken its toll on Canon's playing resources, as the club is unable to recruit talented players.

Similarly, Tonnerre's president Antoine Essomba is said to have snubbed many of his club's leading backers and is blamed for the exodus of players, especially to Asia.

In the 1970's and 80's, it was not uncommon for up to 80,000 fans to cram themselves into the 51,000-capacity Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium in Yaounde for a derby game.

But with no end in sight to the problems facing the two clubs, no one knows when the Yaounde derby will regain its pride of place in Cameroonian football.




SEE ALSO
Abega gets three-month ban
22 Aug 04  |  African
Crisis averted in Cameroon
02 Mar 04  |  African



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