PWD Bamenda of Cameroon are tasked with reaching unprecedented success in continental football after being drawn against South African giants Kaizer Chiefs in the CAF Champions League preliminary round. Can they do the unthinkable and upset the Amakhosi?
It’s been a long journey for the Bamenda club, who were playing in the fourth tier of Cameroon’s football pyramid in 2015. In their first season back in the Cameroon Elite One in 2018, they barely escaped relegation.
Their struggles in 2018 were the genesis for their success this past season, which saw them win their first ever domestic league title after Fecafoot cancelled the season and awarded first placed PWD the title due to the pandemic outbreak.
Cameroonians are no stranger to continental success, with Oryx Douala (1965), Union Douala (1979), and Canon Yaoundé (1971, 1978, 1980) all having won Africa’s top club competition.
In recent years, however, this has not been the case. Coton Sport of Garoua remain the only Cameroonian club to make remarkable strides in the last decade, reaching the semi-final of the CAF Champions League in 2008.
With PWD taking up duties in this year’s edition, it may be time for the Bamenda club to pull their country on their shoulders and raise Cameroonian football.
Although the government’s coronavirus restrictions mean only 200 fans will be allowed into the Limbe Omnisport Stadium, Sunday’s clash against Kaizer Chiefs will be the first continental football match played in Cameroon since early 2019.
The match will be their first ever match in the CAF Champions League. It will surely be a baptism of fire considering Chiefs’ pedigree.
Bamenda are far from scared though. “We know the budget of Kaizer Chiefs is maybe 20 times or 50 times more than ours,” club president Pascal Abunde admitted to the BBC.
“It’s true we are the underdogs. We will be going into this game with no pressure and we know it’s our opponents who are under pressure now.”
Since their historic title win, the squad has played 14 preseason friendlies: recording seven wins, four draws and three defeats. They have scored about 27 goals and conceded fourteen times. Four of such warm-up games were played out of the country in Malabo and Tripoli against Futuro Kings and Al Ahli respectively. Although without a running domestic league, the squad is upbeat that with proper preparations, they shall conquer.
“We will venture without pressure and with plenty of enthusiasm. I told the president, that if we adequately prepare, we can create a surprise. So we will add some few experienced players to the youngsters we have.” PWD Bamenda head coach David Pagou told African Football HQ in an exclusive interview.
Contrary to their opponents Kaizer Chiefs – who’ve battled with form lately, the Abakwa boys high class performances of late should have been good preperation for their first ever CAFCL night.
PWD midfielder Ndeh Collins, one of the youngsters that Pagou was referring to, is excited for the matchup. “We are very ready to play. We know some are scared since it’s our first experience to play the Caf champions League. But against Kaizer Chiefs, we are well prepared”
“With the series of friendly matches that we have played and with the quality of players that we have, I think we are ready for the battle ahead”. Ndeh Collins mentioned on PWD TV.
Having waited to feature in the continent’s most celebrated club competition for close to two decades, the club has shown huge endeavors not to see their ambitions slip away for a long and awaited breakthrough.
“We will work hard. We know that we shouldn’t be too much excited. Our chances lie within our hands. We are working towards having a great game with a favourable result”. Hashou Kerrido, one of the club’s latest signings and goalkeeper, said.
PWD of Bamenda are a youthful team ready for a new challenge. Blessed with quality all around, the reining champions have a squad that evoke envy from their Cameroonian rivals.
One of their key players Nchindo John Bosco has been particularly exceptional. He has had to overcome obstacles in his young career having toiled for an extraordinary rise to the top. He is regarded as the club’s next superstar.
The teenage sensation has been frequently called up to the Intermediate Lions of Cameroon team to prepare for the 2021 African Nations Football Championship. He’s recently been summoned to the U-20 squad for the zonal UNIFFAC U-20 tournament.
26-year-old Cameroon international goalkeeper Haschou Kerrido joined the squad in September alongside other talents. His superb saves, catlike reflexes, as well as excellent footwork has made him the toast of fans. Kerrido makes up the spine of the squad and an indispensable element to shed opposition threats. Others signings include;:Nigerian duo Hamzat Onotu and Emmanuel Samuel Onyekweni as well as Vincent Paul Ngondi and Mohamed Aboubakar among others.
It will be errant not to mention Ndeh Collins – the rock solid physically incredible midfielder is one of the success stories of the Cameroon champions. Known for his thunderous right foot and outrageous finishes, the midfielder plays a commendable role in the fluidity of PWD’s attack.
Mbah Louis has been on the books of the team since the relegation battle and recently extended his stay for two more years. He’s the longest serving player of the club and is only among many outstanding talents to watch out.
Five other players – Fuh Klein, Mael Dindjeke, John Paul Nzo, Moluh Mohammed and goalie Raul Eya’a who were not part of the Libyan trip have joined the PWD training camp in Limbe for the Kaizer Chief’s clash.
The head coach of PWD Bamenda David Pagou has revealed his side is bracing up for a high-yielding display in this year’s CAF Champions League, but warns they must adequately prepare enough, if they must stand against Africa’s heavyweights.
The Abakwa boys won their historic maiden Cameroon League 1 title for the first time in 58 years of existence, becoming only the second club from English speaking Cameroon after Tiko United in 2009 to emerge champions of the country’s top tier football championship.
Coach David Pagou has revealed he is keen to wrap up a maiden domestic triumph with a top-class Champions League display and return Cameroon’s spark at Africa’s elite club competition after hapless attempts from the West African nation’s representative in previous campaigns.
The talented gaffer adds that his side is set to brave the odds and won’t consider themselves as tournament underdogs.
“I am conscious that it has been long a Cameroonian club has been impressive at the tournament. They have always been eliminated at the preliminary stages without making it to the group phase. But it is also true most of the teams who got to that level were not properly organized.”
We will play our game to the fullest. Everything is possible. It’s football”.
PWD are making a return to the continental scene after making their CAF Confederation Cup debut in 2004. Unfortunately, they exited the competition without much achievement, much exploits, losing to AS Douanes of Senegal 5-2 on aggregate, although they did beat future CAFCL champions TP Mazembe in the first round.
Sixteen years down the lane, the North West based outfit has resorted to leave no stone unturned in their quest to conquer the continent, despite having a relatively young squad.
“The current squad is very young but they are in progressing. We won’t pretend we will play with the same selection. We will reinforce the team slightly because they have a plus, what other players don’t have yet. And I hope things go well”
‘Everything is possible. We hope the players will add to the squad will quickly adapt in order to help the team to more success”.
Pagou was appointed coach of PWD Bamenda in September 2019. He replaced Augustine Tchoupo as the club’s lead trainer.
There’s been plenty to write about the club’s success under his reign, notably how the former Canon Yaoundé coach changed his side from relegation battlers to title contenders.
In 2018/2019, PWD survived relegation. The objective of the club the following season was glaring; retaining their top flight status at all costs.
“The work I did with PWD Bamenda is an extraordinary one. I built a solid team with the youngsters. I put in place a great philosophy of organizations, tactical and technical and also physical. The boys were ready. That’s the key to our success”
“We made great efforts organizational wise with hardwork. I worked with players who had the same vision, and who played as a team. We worked together”.
In June 2019, the Cameroonian tactician extended his stay at the helm of the club for one more season. His fantastic coaching seduced not only the club’s administration but also the fans and the players.
“When I arrived in Bamenda, I met a young team who had no experience. We had to begin from the basics and the results were obvious this year. But we worked slowly but surely and I always told the boys how gifted they were and can be able to build a good team. My stay in Bamenda has been successful.”
“I was welcomed like a king and I promised supporters to give them joy. The relationship between the administration, and the players were good. We did not have any problem”.
David Pagou helped Cosmos du Mbam to second place finish in 2005. His spell with the Abakwa boys has been fruitful. But there is still much to be done.
The winners of the preliminary tie will face 2018 semi-finalists Primeiro de Agosto of Angola in the competition’s first round.