Stéphane Mbia, 37, former captain of the Indomitable Lions, was kind enough to answer questions fromAfrik-Foot.com. He gave us his informed opinion on the Champions League final between Manchester City and Inter Milan this Saturday. We also discussed with him his news, the Cameroonian fervor for André Onana, the recent success of his former club Seville in the Europa League or the presidency of Samuel Eto’o at the head of the Cameroonian Football Federation.
Bhello Stéphane, oDidn’t hear that you were getting your coaching diplomas…
Exact. I terminated my contract in Turkey almost eight months ago (with Tuzlaspor, editor’s note). But I’m not sure yet to stop my career. I have a deal in Italy but I’m waiting. I’ll see, because I’m doing my MIP (the “UEFA Executive Master” coaching diploma, editor’s note) in September.
You were on the side of Marseille lately…
Yes exactly. For the OM Foundation.
We imagine that it is always a pleasure to come back to the Canebière…
Yes, especially since it’s very good memories, with the Coupe de la Ligue and the different trophies we won…
Taye Taiwo 🇳🇬, Stéphane Mbia 🇨🇲 and Vitorino Hilton 🇧🇷 are at the Vélodrome for OMFondation!
— 𝐁𝐞𝐎𝐌 (@Be_OM13) June 2, 2023
“Onana is the pride of an entire people”
Now let’s talk about this Saturday’s Champions League final between Manchester City and Inter Milan. We imagine that as a football fan you will follow it carefully. Do you have a favorite for this game?
I would say Inter because there is my teammate André Onana, with whom I played in selection. He’s also a very good guy. It will be a somewhat complicated match but you have to know that a final is about a match, so everything is possible. Manchester City is a very good team but I would say André Onana, because he is a friend and for a Cameroonian, to reach the Champions League final is exceptional, especially since he is having an excellent season. .
Precisely, about André Onana: do you have an opinion on his situation in selection?
Yes, it’s the same speech as when I did an interview with South Africa when I was with CAF where I had roughly the same opinion. I asked the President of the Federation to bridge the gap. That is to say, to serve as a mediator so that he can ask André Onana to come back to the selection because it is very difficult to be super young and
to end his international career.
It is clear that he is fully in the prime of life so we can imagine that for the Cameroonian people it is heartbreaking to see a player of this level give up on the selection. So we hope it’s temporary.
Effectively. Because when you see the Champions League final coming up, it makes a whole people proud. I was there when Inter played their semi-final match. You had to see all the Cameroonian fervor. All the Cameroonian people were behind him so I guess it’s super interesting that he comes back in selection and that the President of the Federation can find the words to allow him to be able to come back and help the national team to be able to qualify for the next campaign.
“Without this respect, you cannot have a favorable result”
Precisely about Samuel Eto’o, the President of the federation, we know that his mandate has been marred by a lot of stories so far. What is your opinion on his presidency?
It’s hard to judge. Because seen from the outside, he had a program, he was right in it. It’s not easy. I think he is trying to do his best so that Cameroonian football can progress but it is not easy. To judge it would be too raw because I am not really the news of the Cameroonian Federation. But it would be interesting if our football could shine again and reach the heights. Of course, it goes through certain things that he tries to put in place, but it’s not easy. I can’t judge.
It is true that it is a very exposed position, where everything can quickly take on great media coverage. Going back to the Champions League final, as a midfielder, are you more impressed with City’s midfield or Inter’s?
Inter have a very good style of play. It’s no coincidence that they made it to the final. They have a very good goalkeeper, as I said at the start, and you should also know that Manchester City is a war machine. They have a very good midfield. It starts from behind, from the goalkeeper… And there is Kévin (Editor’s note: De Bruyne) and other very good players. After that, it will be a tactical battle.
It is true that it is strong on both sides. You who have just won 2 European Cup finals with Sevilla, what do you think is the most important in this type of match? Is it rather the talent or the mind that takes precedence?
No, I would say respect for the opponent. And then, on a detail… It will be played on the individual or tactical error of the adversary which will make it possible to be able to give the advantage to the team which will be able to manage this problem. And once again, it is played on the respect of the adversary. This is the absolute idea. Without this respect, you cannot have a favorable result for your team.
9⃣0⃣➕4⃣ Sevilla needing just 1 goal…
Step up, Stéphane Mbia! 🤯⚽️
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) May 1, 2020
“It’s this humility that you need to have”
Sevilla, your former club, has once again won the Europa League (against AS Roma, 1-1 and 4 pens to 1). Do you think there is a particular recipe in this club that makes it manage to perform regularly in this competition? (The Spanish club is, with 7 victories, record holder of victories in the Europa League).
I think that’s exactly what I was saying for the Champions League. It’s this humility there, because you have to know that Sevilla FC is a very big club and above all, when a team like that, despite a somewhat complicated season (Editor’s note: they finished 12th out of 20 in La Liga), once we reach the final, we have our little recipe, we have our pre-match. It remains a bit confidential but it was impossible for us to miss a final. Impossible.
Thanks Stephane. Would you like to add a last word?
I congratulate the FC Sevilla and Marseille club, which had a very good season despite the last matches, and also Stade Rennais, which qualified for the Europa League.
The message got through. It’s cool to think about your old clubs, including your parent club.
Yes, it can be seen that there is substantive work being done with Florian Maurice who is doing an excellent job with Philippe Barraud at the training centre. In terms of recruitment, they do an exceptional job. So there you have it, I think they should be congratulated. And I also want to congratulate Monchi from Sevilla (Editor’s note, the current sports director), who does an exceptional job.