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''Our objectives right now are to qualify for the FIBA AfroBasket 2021,'' says Cameroon's Benoit Mbala
LIMOGES (France) - If ever a lion's den had a name, it would be the Yaounde Sports Complex where Cameroon will host the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 Group C Qualifiers from February 21-23.
The energy from the fans, the confidence that comes with playing in familiar territory and the motivation to play for national pride are at the forefront of Cameroon's quest to do everything in their power to emerge victorious and book a ticket to FIBA Africa's flagship event next year in Rwanda.
"PLAYING AT HOME IS ALWAYS SPECIAL. HAVING FAMILY AND FRIENDS SUPPORTING US IS EXTRA MOTIVATION TO WIN. THE SUPPORT OF THE HOME CROWD WILL BE A PLUS FOR US."
For Cameroon's Benoit Mbala, this is a new opportunity to remind Africa that they are a power house but to execute this, the France-based small forward wants his team to earn this tag and to earn it in the right way by performing at home.
The Lions were drawn in Group C along with Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea and Equatorial Guinea and the top three teams will automatically qualify for the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 in Kigali.
In an exclusive interview with FIBA.basketball, Mbala said, "It will be a good challenge for us. We had a couple of setbacks before and this will definitely be a good opportunity for us to reassure ourselves for the future goals we aim to achieve."
Cameroon came so close to qualifying for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China yet so far. They were equal on 19 points with Cote d'Ivoire but the latter had a better points difference +86 as compared to Cameroon's +78 and Mbala has not forgotten about that.
The Lions are now engaged in a silent rivalry with Cote d'Ivoire and this window will present a perfect opportunity to settle old scores and show which is the better team.
"We fell short last year and could not make it to the World Cup. Now what we have in mind is to show the world that we have learnt from it and that we are a different and better team," Mbala explained.
"Playing at home is always special. Having family and friends supporting is extra motivation to win. The support of the home crowd will be a plus for us."
"Our objectives right now are to qualify for the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 and keep on working on the growth of our team. It is a new generation of players and building a strong team is one of our main priorities."
"We will have a lot of young new faces and my role will be to try to help them make the transition like I did my first national appearance," Mbala said passionately.
With nine players based in France and Japhet Kadji who plies his trade in Spain, Cameroon will boast of massive experience coming into this tournament but it will also be an opportunity for Cameroon-based Felix Bogmis and Arnold Kome to leave a mark.
Cameroon start their campaign against Equatorial Guinea on February 21 before taking on Guinea and finally Cote d'Ivoire in the biggest showdown matchup of this window.