The last time Cameroon and Colombia met was on June 23 1990 in the last sixteen of the 1990 FIFA World Cup Italy™. After no goals were scored in normal time, the game moved into extra-time when “supersub” Roger Milla sent his team through to the quarter-finals with two goals, the second, when he cheekily stole the ball out from under the feet of walkabout Colombian keeper René Higuita before slotting home, being one of the most talked about goals in history. The old Lion takes us down memory lane and assesses his country’s performances at the FIFA Confederations Cup France 2003.
Tell us about that goal?
Roger Milla: I was looking for a chance to pounce. I’d positioned myself between René Higuita and his last defender waiting for a poor pass, which is exactly what happened. I hadn’t planned it but I’d played with Carlos Valderrama at Montpellier and we’d spoken about René’s game and I’d seen a few cassettes of Colombia. I knew he liked to play with the ball outside his area and I was ready for him.
Have you bumped into René Higuita since then?
Quite a few times, mostly at gala evenings when former players like to poke fun at him by saying: “René, you’ve met Roger Milla haven’t you?” But we’ve always got along very well.
Was that game the highlight of your career?
Definitely one of the highlights, yes. Coming on as a sub and scoring two goals to win the game for the Indomitable Lions was quite something!
Cameroon are about to meet Colombia in the semis. Who do you fancy to win?
The semi-final will be tough, just like the game against Turkey. I’d like to salute the Colombians because they’re a very good side. My advice to our boys would be to keep it simple, trust their instincts and to take any chances that come their way.
What do you think of Cameroon’s performances so far at the FIFA Confederations Cup France 2003?
Nobody expected us to do so well. We were given a ten per cent chance of qualifying for the semis. Who would’ve believed we could beat Brazil and Turkey to finish top of the Group. I think you can put it down to the players’ attitude. They really wanted to make up for two disappointments: The 2001 Confederations Cup and the World Cup last year in Asia. They’ve worked twice as hard as anyone else.
What has changed since the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™ when the Indomitable Lions were knocked out in the first round?
The youngsters who have joined the squad have made a difference. These players have been on form with their clubs which is why they were picked. It has also shown the established members of the team that they’ll have to work hard to hang onto their places. The youngsters have seized their chance with both hands. Each member of the team is important, I don’t want to single anyone out. They’re all great pros.