Best African National Teams of the 2000s: Cameroon 2002

In 2002, Cameroon successfully defended their AFCON title from 2000. Like the prior tournament, the Indomitable Lions had a fearsome attack spearheaded by Patrick M’Boma and a 20-year-old Samuel Eto’o, who would become two of Cameroon’s top three goal scorers all-time.

Perhaps as memorable as their championship run, Cameroon wore their now equal parts iconic and controversial sleeveless kits. The same kits, designed by Puma, would be banned by FIFA before the 2002 World Cup, creating a holy grail for football shirt collectors worldwide. Perhaps only to be upstaged by Cameroon’s one-piece kits two years later.

However, in their sleeveless shirts, Cameroon took a perfect nine points from their three group matches, scoring five goals and allowing none. Their group performance was capped by a 3-0 win over Togo in their final match of the group stage.

In the quarterfinals, a second half M’Boma goal was enough to see off Egypt 1-0. A 3-0 thumping of hosts Mali ensued in the semifinal. The final against Senegal ended scoreless after extra time, the only match Cameroon did not win in 90 minutes. However, the draw meant Cameroon did not concede a single goal in regular time or extra time over the entire tournament. Penalties decided the final, just as they had in 2000, with the same outcome. Cameroon won 3-2 on penalties, retaining their title and qualifying for the next year’s FIFA Confederations Cup. 

M’Boma and midfielder Salomon Olembé ended the tournament tied for top scorer with Nigerian striker Julius Aghahowa, all with three goals each. For their performances, M’Boma and defender Rigobert Song were named to the team of the tournament.