Eto'o ban cut to eight months

07 January 2012 01:16

A 15-match ban imposed on Cameroon captain Samuel Eto'o for sparking a players' strike has been reduced to eight months, the national football federation said Saturday.

The original suspension of the four-time African Footballer of the Year triggered widespread anger in a central African country reeling from their failure to qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.

Officials discussed the ban in a meeting which began Friday and continued past midnight amid reports that President Paul Biya wanted the disciplinary action reconsidered.

Eto'o will miss a 2013 Cup of Nations eliminator against minnows Guinea Bissau and 2014 World Cup qualifiers against more formidable opponents the Democratic Republic of Congo and Libya.

But an August 31 end to the ban means he will be available for a Cup of Nations eliminator during the following two months -- presuming they overcome Guinea Bissau -- and four World Cup qualifiers next year.

The 30-year-old striker, who won UEFA Champions League medals with Barcelona and Inter Milan, moved to Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala last year in a deal that reportedly makes him the highest paid footballer in the world.

Vice-captain Enoh Eyong had a two-match ban for his part in the strike halved and the 2,000-dollar fine imposed on defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto for ignoring national team call-ups has been scrapped.

The strike followed a tournament in Morocco last November with non-payment of match fees leading to a friendly against Algeria being cancelled and Cameroon having to pay 500,000 dollars compensation for lost television revenue.

Eto'o has not been able to match his club successes at national-team level since then coach Paul le Guen appointed him captain three years ago in place of ageing defensive legend Rigobert Song.

Cameroon made a timid last-eight exit from the 2010 Cup of Nations in Angola against Egypt and were the first country eliminated from the World Cup in South Africa later that year.

Eto'o was ineffective in an unsually wide striking role as they fell to Japan and defeats by Denmark and the Netherlands completed a disastrous World Cup campaign for a squad allegedly torn apart by cliques.

More humiliation for the Indomitable Lions followed in the 2012 Cup of Nations qualifiers as they finished a distant second behind Senegal and also missed out on two places reserved for the best runners-up.

Source: AFP