Joseph-Antoine Bell, a former Cameroonian international, is renowned in the media for being vocal. The 1988 and 1984 African champion speaks about the build-up to the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations in an exclusive interview with Sport News Africa. The former goalie expressed his worries over the Cameroon national team as well, but he still plans to support them at the Côte d’Ivoire competition. The former goalie for OM and ASSE was in Dakar for a Sport Impact event.
Joseph-Antoine Bell, the AFCON 2023 in Côte d’Ivoire will take place in only two months. Are we going to see one of the greatest AFCONs in history, considering the factors at work?
Every tournament that’s coming up is, in my opinion, the finest one yet. Even if the players we ultimately see—the so-called key players—might not be the same. However, each tournament is planned to surpass the previous one, with teams ready to triumph. Football players are not the first people in soccer, thus it’s critical that everyone who comes before them performs their work correctly. Their labor is the primary factor that determines the competition’s success.
Let us discuss Pool C in Cameroon, which is also known as the “group of death” and includes Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea, the reigning champions.
I wouldn’t refer to it as the “group of death” since, in an AFCON with 24 teams, there most likely won’t be several deaths.In this group, I predict one “death” and three qualifiers. To occupy one of those three spots, we’ll have to engage in combat.
Only in this group did all four teams get beyond the elimination round of the most recent AFCON.
The sole negative aspect of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations is that one of the four countries who advanced to the first round will be very dissatisfied. Not because they’re gone, but rather because their performance wasn’t as good as the last one. I promise that (laughs). Thus, certainly, Group C will experience death in that sense.
Given their previous matches in October, what are Cameroon’s prospects of winning this AFCON?
I wouldn’t dare guess anything with any degree of precision just yet. For the simple reason that, between November and the January start of the competition, a lot may still happen to any club. Only when the teams have competed in this tournament in at least one match, or even beyond the group stage, can forecasts be considered serious and reliable. Teams may then be evaluated based on their true consistency or potential.
With only four victories and seven losses since Song took control, are you concerned about Cameroon?
As a consultant at Rfi now, I have a zen demeanor and support the game rather than any particular team.However, as a Cameroonian, I have good cause to be concerned about this. Absolutely, yes.
“It’s hard to have a champion come out of nowhere” .
Concerned despite the common Cameroonian belief that Cameroon is invincible when the tournament begins…
I’m happy you mentioned it. Being evil won’t help you win (laughter). I told you we would judge based on the pitch for this reason. The past doesn’t matter if they’re still decent when it matters. With your gift, you succeed. It is true, nevertheless, that you have to be ready in order to put up a winning front. What matters most is how they get to the competition and what they are doing at that moment. There are some who plan for the competition ahead, those who set goals, and those who project themselves by visualizing the message and the means of getting it over to the players in order to create something that will lead to victory.
Which teams have the greatest chance of winning the AFCON in Côte d’Ivoire, in your opinion?
In general, they are identical. One thing has to be kept in mind. Having a champion appear out of nowhere is difficult. However, sometimes there are winners. Senegal has now joined the group of winners.This, rather of making it larger, makes it even smaller (laughs). The likelihood of a new team emerging among the champs is dwindling. I would rank Senegal, Morocco, Algeria, and Nigeria somewhat as the favorites for this AFCON. Teams that are skilled at spoil parties will also be available. Gambia may be a really malicious liar.
The first round is really much less significant than it once was. The truth is that qualifying beyond the first round no longer actually moves you any closer to the championship game. I believe that everyone’s situation has become a little bit easier. You may brag about making it beyond the first round, but it wasn’t that hard. Only six teams out of 24 are eliminated in today’s first round.