Cameroon wins gold over Spain in penalty kick shootoutPosted: Saturday September 30, 2000 12:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday November 14, 2000 9:42 AM
SYDNEY, Australia (CNNSI.com) -- Cameroon won on penalty kicks over Spain on Saturday to win the Olympic men's soccer gold medal.
Known as the Indomitable Lions, Cameroon succeeded Nigeria's Super Eagles as Olympic champions by outshooting the Spaniards 5-3 before 98,000 fans at Stadium Australia.
After extra time the two teams were tied 2-2.
The result sent out another message to the world of soccer that Africa has a big future in the game even though no African nation has advanced further than the quarterfinals or staged soccer's biggest championship.
"I think this a motivational development not just for Cameroon but for African soccer," Cameroon coach Jean-Paul Akono said after his team's triumph. "I don't think we are very far from [winning] a World Cup in a few years from now.
"African countries need more organization and more seriousness in their approach so that Africa can one day win the World Cup."
While Spain collected silver and Chile downed the United States 2-0 to win the bronze, the Cameroon triumph also was a victory for positive, attacking soccer over the counter-attacking style favored by many teams from Europe and South America.
Cameroon already had beaten Brazil and Chile on the way to the final and rallied from two goals down at halftime to eventually beat the Spaniards.
Lik Nigeria in 1996, the Lions just wouldn't lie down.
Xavier "Xavi" Hernandez gave Spain the lead after just 75 seconds and Cameroon could well have been 2-0 down after five minutes if Carlos Kameni, its 16-year-old goalkeeper, hadn't saved a penalty from Miguel Angulo.
When Spain scored another through Gabriel "Gabri" Garcia a minute before halftime, it would have been all over for most teams. Not Cameroon.
The Africans, who beat favored Brazil on an extra time golden goal and scored twice in the last seven minutes to beat Chile after trailing 1-0, kept attacking and were rewarded with a little good fortune.
A shot from Patrick Mboma struck defender Ivan Amaya and rebounded past his own goalkeeper, and, five minutes later, Samuel Eto'o charged clear to score the equalizer.
Frustrated Spain had two players, Gabri and Jose Mari Romero, ejected in the second half and, in extra time, Cameroon maintained a constant flow of attacks without breaking through the packed Spanish defense.
Instead it went to the shootout and Amaya, having already opened the back door to Cameroon with his own goal, virtually invited them to collect the gold when he fired his spot kick against the crossbar.
It was the only miss of the shootout and, when Pierre Wome fired in the fifth Cameroon penalty, the Lions bench emptied as coach Akono and his reserve players charged onto the field to join the celebration.
"It was very difficult to watch the shootout," Akono said. "It would have been better to have scored the decisive goal before. But we had been faced by an excellent Spain defense and we didn't use all the opportunities that we had," Akono said.
"There was a great responsibility for the penalty shootout but we had prepared for that and our players were very skilled at it. But there was also a lot of luck involved."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.