'This is your country now': Elderly Qatari man delivers heartfelt message to Cameroonian fans at Fifa World Cup

The mood on ground in Qatar is refreshingly different than what has been portrayed in some parts of the world; 'it's peaceful, everyone is friendly', say fans

By Rituraj Borkakoty from Doha

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Published: Mon 21 Nov 2022, 6:10 PM

Last updated: Mon 21 Nov 2022, 6:32 PM

Waving their national flag, a group of Cameroonian fans was wandering happily around the Mall of Qatar taking pictures when a Qatari national stopped them.

“Can I also take a picture with you guys?” the man asked.

“Ah, please, come on in, let’s take this picture together,” a man from the Cameroonian group responded. They huddled into the frame with smiles on their faces before the Qatari man left with these parting words.

“This is also your country now, my friends. Have a wonderful time. Enjoy the World Cup,” the elderly man said, waving at them.

The mood on ground in Qatar is refreshingly different than what has been portrayed in some parts of the world. “It’s beautiful, it’s peaceful. Everyone is friendly. The hospitality here is so great, so we are so very happy to be here,” Adonis Hegngi, one of the members of the Cameroonian group, told this reporter.

Hegngi says he is in Qatar not just to support Cameroon, but all African teams.

Adonis Hegngi with his wife
Adonis Hegngi with his wife

“I am here to watch six matches. I will watch all the group matches of Cameroon. But I will also watch matches of Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal. My country is Cameroon, but we are from Africa. So I am here for Africa and African football,” said Hegngi, who moved to the United States 26 years ago.

“We came here as a group. There are 18 of us, all Cameroonians from all over the world. I am based in the United States, in Columbus, Ohio. But my wife and brother came from Cameroon,” he said.

Meeting a football-mad Cameroonian at a World Cup means you just cannot resist asking the obvious question: who is the greatest Cameroonian player of all time?

Is it Roger Milla, who earned global fame with his four goals and trademark goal celebration of dancing beside the corner flag in Cameroon’s dream run to the 1990 World Cup quarterfinals?

Or does he lean towards Samuel Eto’o, who was the more decorated player on the club stage with Barcelona and Inter Milan?


“Yes, in Cameroon, we always have this debate on Roger Milla and Eto’o. I grew up in the Milla era. But I love Eto’o. So I will say Samuel Eto’o is our greatest player of all time,” he said.

Hegngi was in college when the Milla-inspired Cameroon stunned Diego Maradona’s Argentina in the opening match at Italia 1990, in what was one of the biggest upsets in football history.

“You know I have met a lot of Argentina fans here in Qatar. I have tried to remind them what we did to them in 1990,” he laughed.

“Now we are going to play Brazil here (in the group stage in Qatar). So I think we are going to replicate that 1990 magic and beat Brazil, the other big team (from South America).”

So how big was the celebration in Cameroon after Milla’s team shocked Argentina?

“I was 20, but it’s still fresh in my memory. It was wonderful; the whole nation was in a jubilant mood. We had a public holiday the next day. Everybody was happy – it brought peace and unity in our country,” he recalled, before making a bold prediction.

“We are optimistic that our current team will play amazing football in Qatar. You know, if you meet any Cameroonian in Qatar, they will tell you that we have come here to take the Cup. We have that dream that this might be our year!”

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