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Africa's greatest teams #5: Canon Yaounde

Thomas Nkono Side Cameroonian legend Thomas Nkono

Wed, 14 Jul 2021 Source: goal.com

The first in Goal's series to celebrate the continent's finest Caf Champions League wi.nners, we remember Cameroon's greatest ever club side

Canon Yaounde side of the late 1970s and early 1980s, who defeated the likes of Enugu Rangers and Gor Mahia en route to their greatest successes, deserve to be considered among Africa's all-time great teams.

Crowned on their African Cup of Champions debut in 1971 after beating Asante Kotoko, Canon Yaounde again reached the heights of Africa six years later, this time in the African Cup Winners' Cup.

Facing Enugu Rangers' mighty generation including Christian Chukwu and Aloyisius Atuegbu, the Cameroonians fell hard in the last stage, and came back home empty handed.

It was a failure which helped Le Kpa Kum lean some big lessons which would help them in the future.

Returning to the Caf Champions League a year later after this Winners' Cup disappointment, a more mature Canon Yaounde would gun down their opponents en route to the semi-finals, with Green Buffaloes and Al-Merreikh Omdurman among those who were swatted aside.

In the semi-final, Thomas Nkono and friends came up against the same Enugu Rangers side who had prevented them from capturing the ACWC a year beforehand.

Unlike the ’77 final, when Rangers won 5-2, the ’78 meeting was a cagey affair, which Canon eventually won on penalties.

1977’s demons were exorcised, and Canon were set to play their second African final in two years, but they now had a much tougher obstacle in front of them: Hafia Conakry, who were currently in the midst of Guinean football’s golden era.

Thomas N

At the time, Hafia were playing their fifth African Cup of Champions Cup final in the period of seven years, and aiming for a fourth crown.

In a packed Stade du 28 Septembre, the Guinean favourites failed to break down a studied and solid Canon Yaounde defence, led by the mythic Nkono between the sticks, and were forced to a 0-0 draw before the return leg in Yaounde.

Showing a different style from the one previously seen in Conakry, the Cameroonians would ease past the Guineans 2-0 to win their second title, ending Hafia Conakry's dynasty and starting their own.

A year later, the red and green tornado would bulldoze their way to clinch the same African Cup Winners' Cup final they lost years earlier at the hands of Enugu Rangers.

Without any problems, Le Kpa Kum smashed Gor Mahia in what is still the greatest score registered in an African final: 8-0 on aggregate, including a 6-0 victory in the return leg.

It was a sublime triumph, which led to Nkono becoming the first and only goalkeeper to win the African Player of the Year award.

Still hungry after an unprecedented Champions' Cup-Winners Cup back-to-back triumphs, Theophile 'Doctor' Abega, Gregoire Mbida, the evergreen Jean Onguene, Jean Daniel Eboue, Ephrem Mbom, Ibrahim Audu, and the peerless Nkono were in the hunt for a third Champions Cup title.

Unlike the previous African crowns, Nkono's band now had to win their title outside their den of the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium.

In the first leg, in Garoua, they were held to a surprise 2-2 draw by Congolese side AS Bilima, who had eliminated Canon’s countrymen—Union Douala—in the previous round.

It left Union with it all to do in Zaire.

Two weeks later in the mythical Tata Raphael cathedral, theatre of historic events, and in front of an ultra optimistic crowd, waiting for the crowning of their champions US Bilima, three cannon shots from the veteran Onguene Manga and Dr Abega translated Canon's domination into goals and steered their side towards a 3-0 victory and a deserved third African Cup of Champions.

Canon’s ‘Galacticos’, and their flamboyant football, had reached the pinnacle of African football, and the masterclass embodied—perfectly—the style and panache they boasted during their previous years of dominance.

Source: goal.com