Why Jacques Songo’o (Cameroon’s Goal Keeping Coach) Should be Fired


‘Cameroon Left the Frying Pan into the Fire’

Cameroon Goal Keeping Coach: Songo'o Jacques

Cameroon Goal Keeping Coach: Songo’o Jacques

Before Jacques Songo’o (former Goal keeper of Cameroon) was appointed as Cameroon’s Goal Keeping coach in February 2010, that position was held by the legendary Thomas “Tommy” N’kono, arguably the best former goal keeper in Africa. N’kono held the position from 1999 until 2002 and then again from 2007 to 2010. “Tommy” was even interim Coach for Cameroon after German born coach Otto Pfister resigned in 2009. In principle, he was coach of the national team (the Indomitable Lions) for several months before the arrival of French man Paul Le Guen.

About four months before the FIFA World Cup in South Africa in June 2010, it was reported on Friday 19 February 2010 by Cameroon media that Jacques Songo’o will replace N’kono as Cameroon’s new Goal Keeping Coach. It should be duly noted that it is alleged that Paul le Guen was given a free-hand by authorities to put together his own staff when he arrived. As such, he therefore independently wanted to work with Thomas N’Kono as his assistant in-charge of goalkeeping. According to African Celebrities Magazine sources, Le Guen was probably not consulted on the plans to replace N’kono with Songo’o.

The real issue here is the reason N’kono was replaced, and why Songo’o was brought in to fix the problem. Although there hasn’t been an official reason for N’Kono’s dismissal, the most popular speculation is that, it is linked to the performance of his first choice goal keeper at the time, Espanyol Barcelona keeper Idriss Kameni, during the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola in 2010.

To many Cameroonian Football lovers, Kameni was bad in the poles at that time, conceding a few suspect goals. As Goal keeping coach then, Thomas N’kono was seriously blamed for continually maintaining Kameni as his first choice keeper. He was accused of being complacent, and for favoritism because he was also Kameni’s coach and mentor at Espanyol Barcelona in Spain. It was thought that dropping N’kono (Kameni’s mentor), would create room for fair competition for the goalkeeper’s shirt, and help rebuild the team with a “better keeper” than Kameni. Note that at the time, the three goal keepers in the National team were 26 year old Idriss Kameni, 37 year old Souleymanou and N’Dy Assembe.

Then Enters Jacques Songo’o to fix the “Problem”.

With the problem identified as: a) the incompetency of Cameroon’s then goal keeper Idriss Kameni,  and b) the role N’kono was consciously or unconsciously playing in maintaining Kameni; Jacques Songo’o came in to clear the house, and fix Cameroon’s goal keeping problems. Everyone who closely follows developments within Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions expected Songo’o to recruit three of the very best young goal keepers Cameroon could offer, to prepare for the qualifications and the 2014 World cup.

For the World Cup the three goal keepers selected were: 32 year old Charles Itandje (Konyaspor/Turkey), Sammy Ndjock (Fethiyespor/Turkey), and Loïc Feudjou (Coton Sport/Cameroon). May be these were the best Songo’o could find but the inclusion of Charles Itandje in that list brought into question Songo’s judgment and motives even before the World Cup in Brazil. The reason is that it was very clear that Charles Itandje was not even up to his predecessor Idriss Kameni. So what was the positive change? Why replace a “bad” goal keeper with a worse goal keeper?. Why was N’kono blamed and replaced by a seemingly less competent Goal keeping coach? Where were the best goal keepers Cameroon could offer? Was the mission accomplished?

While this criticism does not apply to the choices of both Sammy Ndjock, and Loïc Feudjou as assistant Goal keepers, the problem is with the choice of Charles Itandje as first Goal keeper of the three chosen. For someone who has been Goal keeper himself, it was unimaginable that Itandje who has always lacked the charisma and skills of a typical Cameroonian Goal keeper became Songo’o’s first choice goal keeper for the football passionate Cameroonians.

Thomas Nkono was accused of favoring Kameni and “maybe” taking bribe from the keeper (which we have no evidence of). But is Jacques Songo’o also taking bribe from Charles Itandje? While African Celebrities Magazine cannot make any declaration on that and has no evidence of that, our conclusion therefore rests on the judgment and incompetence of the Cameroon’s goal keeping coach.

It has now been proven that Charles Itandje is Cameroon’s worst goal keeper ever (in performance, patriotism and charisma). He was selected or picked by Songo’o, at least in principle as the goal keeping coach. Whatever the reason, the incompetence of his decisions is so mighty that it is difficult to see how his replacing N’kono blamed for similar decisions can ever be justified. In fact he has proven to be worse than the man he replaced and really needs to be fired or asked to resign from the coaching staff of the Indomitable Lions.

This article does not in any way support N’kono’s decision to maintain Kameni at the time because many criticized Kameni’s output. It is meant to highlight the fact that his replacement turns out to be more incompetent and maybe corrupt. It is now clear that if Itandje (Songo’o’s choice) is the worst Goal Keeper, then anyone else would have been better than Songo’o as goal keeping coach. Is the fact that Songo’o was not a great keeper himself compared to N’kono and Bell Joseph Antoine affecting his perception of who and what a good keeper should be?

At the same time Thomas N’kono judgments could even be forgiven because at the time, Kameni was performing admirably for his club (Espanyol, Spain) to the point that the French media even asked Paul Le Guen if he was surprised by the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde situation of his keeper. So Kameni’s performance could solely be blamed on Kameni catching well for his club and not so well for the lions and not a bad decision by the coach.

But the case of Itandje and Songo’o is different. Even after two seriously bad performances at the World Cup, it was an outer shock when the line-up came up and Itandje was still at the goal against Brazil. So why was Sammy Ndjock, or Loïc Feudjou not tried for a match that was obviously not a must win match for Cameroon? This was the final straw over Songo’o’s judgment. This observation was made way before the match. Itandje’s performance during the match simply confirmed the fears.

While the Cameroonian authorities are looking at ways to overhaul their National team, one of the first persons to be fired or asked to resign should be Goal keeping Coach Songo’o. As for Charles Itandje, Cameroon should not need his service anymore at 32 years of age and already so incompetent. But with the way things turn out some times we wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the goal posts in his pink Jersey against Ivory Coast and Congo in September 2014.