As we saw in yesterday’s entry, African football had been stifled by FIFA for decades, and it wasn’t really until the last twenty years that we’ve seen significant process.
In the eighties, the North African sides earned some respect with solid if not spectacular performances, culminating in Morocco becoming the first African side to win a World Cup group in 1986.
Nevertheless, the one team that really made the football world sit up and take notice of African football, and in particular West African football, were Cameroon in the 1990 World Cup in Italy.
Cameroon faced the reigning World Champions, Argentina, in the opening game of Italia ´90.
Despite their success in Africa’s premier competition two years earlier, little was expected of them outside of their own region.
As the teams got ready to kick off, Diego Maradona is seen juggling the ball on his shoulder and motivating his team. They were not to know that they were about to play one of the hardest games of their lives.
Once the game was underway Cameroon soon showed they were not going to be overawed by the occasion, and confidently knocked it around.
Maradona was causing them problems and he was fouled cynically on numerous occasions.
The Cameroonians were playing with fire and picked up numerous yellow cards — eventually leading to the red card of Kana-Biyik early in the second half.
Eight minutes later Cameroon won a free-kick…
“One brother sent off, the other brother scores, AMAZING!”
Unforgettable commentary from Barry Davies on this one, and a quite incredible leap from Omam-Biyik to head home:
What Happened Next?
Cameroon were reduced to nine men after their infamous triple attempted foul on substitute Claudio Caniggia which ended with Benjamin Massing’s boot flying off.
However, The Indomitable Lions still managed to hold off Argentina.
Cameroon beat Romania in their second match, which meant they qualified for the second round despite being thrashed by the USSR in their last group game.
They beat Colombia in extra-time in the second round, and were then desperately unlucky to lose to England in the quarter finals.
Unfortunately Cameroon were never able to better this performance, despite successfully qualifying for the World Cup numerous times since.
The Biyik family continues to produce professional footballers, with Kana-Biyik’s son currently on the books of Kayserispor in Turkey.
Quality BBC montage of Cameroon’s 1990 World Cup campaign, broadcast before QF with England