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banner Monday, 11 February, 2002, 12:02 GMT
Cameroon back to hero's welcome
Thousands turned out in the middle of the night to welcome the team home
Fans in Yaounde await the arrival of the team
By Francis Ngwa-Niba in Yaounde.

Cameroon is celebrating the Indomitable Lions record-equalling Nations Cup victory in Mali 2002.

The festivities are expected to continue for the next few days as the team, most of whom are based in Europe, take a few days to relax.

Thousands of fans, dance groups and an official delegation were on hand at the Yaounde's International Airport to welcome the Lions home late on Sunday night.

The anxious crowd had to endure a wait of more than six hours before the team stepped off the plane.

Then the drumming, dancing, singing and drinking, which has been going on in earnest since Senegal's Aliou Cisse missed his penalty to hand Cameroon the trophy, reached a new level.

During a hastily organized ceremony at the airport, Government minister Atangana Mebara welcomed the Lions saying the nation was proud of their achievements

President's praise

Team captain Rigobert Song thanked the entire nation for the trust and support the team had been given throughout the competition.

The team is expected to do a victory tour of the country with the trophy .

The celebrations have not stopped since Sunday's dramatic win
Cameroon and their Nations Cup
Most of the country has been taking advantage of Monday's conveniently placed public service holiday to celebrate.

Bars and nightclubs have been full to overflowing and the authorities are reporting increasing numbers of alcohol related incidents.

Fans have been singing their teams praises.

"We had to win at all costs and at what ever price", said one one. "I can only say this is the testimony of a great footballing nation."

"Victory could only be could not be denied," said another, in reference to the tension created by the penalty shoot-out.

President Paul Biya congratulated the lions during his traditional public holiday speech.

He described the victory of the lions as 'emblematic' and an indication of the desire of Cameroonian youth to succeed whatever the odds.

Links to more Cup of Nations stories are at the foot of the page.


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