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Olympic Games

Cameroon's "Indomitable Lions" win shootout over Spain to take Olympic gold.

SYDNEY (September 30, 2000) -- The men's soccer gold medal will remain with Africa. After Nigeria became the first African nation to win it in Atlanta four years ago, the "Indomitable Lions" of Cameroon delivered a victory this year over favored Spain.

Cameroon came back from two goals down to draw even at 2-2, then completed the upset with a glorious 5-3 penalty kick tally. It was Cameroon's first ever gold medal in any Olympic sport.

Cameroon's Pierre Wome put the decisive penalty kick home after Spain's Amaya had hit the bar with his penalty effort. It was an ignominious end to Amaya's championship efforts. Earlier in the game, he had conceded an own goal that became the beginning of the end of Spain's gold medal quest.

"I think this a motivational development not just for Cameroon but for African soccer," said Cameroon coach Jean-Paul Akono. "I don't think we are very far from (winning) a World Cup in a few years from now."

Down a goal down after just 78 seconds when Barcelona midfielder Xavi curled a freekick low into the side netting from 19 yards, Cameroon had to survive a penalty-kick barely three minutes later. However Spain's weak spot kick was easily saved by 16-year-old keeper Carlos Idriss Kameni.

Gabri, who had come on for injured Spanish skipper Toni Velamaxan after 27 minutes, put Spain up 2-0 only moments before the half with his third goal of the tournament. At that stage of the match, Spain looked set for their second soccer gold medal in eight years following their triumph at Barcelona in 1992.

But after looking dead and buried at half-time, Cameroon staged a stunning recovery true to their nickname with two quick goals after the changeover.

At the 53rd minute, Patrick Mboma's cross took a deflection off Amaya and bounced past Spain's keeper Aranzubia for the first goal. Mboma then provided the pass for Real Madrid Samuel Eto'o to make the equaliser five minutes later.

After dominating the first half everything began to go wrong for Spain after the break. Gabri was sent off after 70 minutes for a late and high tackle on Nicolas Alnoudji. In the last minute of normal time Jose Mari was red-carded for feigning an injury for the second time.

Once Jose Mari's exited, Spain was left to defend for almost all the extra time period with a nine men. Even so, both sides came desperately close to scoring, but the golden goal never came. Cameroon was denied what would have been a sensational winner in the last few seconds of extra time when Eto'o was ruled to be inches offside before scoring what looked like game-winner.

It took nine penalty kicks for the real game-winner off of Wome's foot to come. Afterwards the Cameroon players, some of whom had also captured the African Nations Cup earlier this year, celebrated jubilantly as the Spaniards collapsed on the field in tears.

Cameroon coach Akono stated, "The penalty shoot-out was not really what we were looking for to decide this gold medal match but we had been denied by excellent Spanish defending in extra-time. The mental strength of my team also helped to overcome the fact that we could not score against only nine opponents."

The final was played before some 104,000 fans at the main stadium of the Sydney Olympics with Australian fans chanting "Cameroon! Cameroon!" to support the underdogs. It was a dramatic finale to a tournament that had provided thrills, surprises and solid soccer.

Cameroon 2, Spain 2
(Cameroon wins penalty kicks 5-3)

Lineups: Spain: Aranzubia, Lacruz, Marchena, Albeda, Angulo (Capdevila 74), Xavi, Jose Mari, Puyol, Amaya, Velamazan [captain] (Gabri 27), Tamudo (Ferron 49). Coach - Inaki Saez Ruiz. Cameroon: Idriss Kameni, Pierre Wome, Serge Mimpo, Patrice Abanda, Nicolas, Alnoudji (Albert Meyond Ze 111), Geremi Njitap [captain], Samuel Eto'o, Patrick Mboma, Lauren Etame Mayer, Aaron Nguimbat (Daniel Ngom Kome 46), Serge Branco (Joel Epalle 91). Coach - Jean-Paul Akono.

Scoring:
Spain - Xavi 2.
Spain - Gabri 47+.
Cameroon - Amaya (own goal) 53.
Cameroon - Eto'o 58.

Shootout scoring:
Cameroon - Mboma (goal), Eto‘o (goal), Njitap (goal), Etame Mayer (goal), Wome (goal).
Spain - Xavi (goal), Capdevila (goal), Amaya (miss), Albelda (goal).

Yellow card cautions: Spain - Albelda 19, Mari 55, Aranzubia 117; Cameroon - Abanda 25. Red card ejections: Spain - Gabri 70, Mari (second yellow) 91+.

Referee: Felipe de Jesus Rizo (Mexico). Referee’s assistants: Awni HAssouneh (Jordan), Elise Doriri (Venezuela). Attendance: 104,000 at Sydney Football Stadium in Sydney, Australia.

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