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Eto'o set to return to Cameroon national team

The Canadian Press

9/28/2012 8:52:14 AM

YAOUNDE, Cameroon -- Samuel Eto'o was ready to return to the Cameroon national team Friday after being asked by the country's government to end his boycott.

The 31-year-old striker said on his website that he had made himself available again for selection "on the request of the highest authority of the Republic" after a self-imposed exile in protest against poor organization within the squad.

Eto'o met with Cameroon's prime minister, the minister of sports and also new coach Jean Paul Akon this week to discuss his return ahead of a decisive African Cup of Nations qualifying game next month.

The meeting was held on the instruction of the country's president, Paul Biya, to ensure Cameroon's former captain and the four-time African footballer of the year was back in the team with Cameroon in danger of missing out on a second straight African Cup of Nations tournament.

"I am encouraged by my desire to serve my country with the same faith and determination as the last 15 years," the Russia-based forward wrote on his website in announcing his comeback.

Having served an eight-month suspension for his part in a players' strike last year, Eto'o refused to play in this month's 2-0 loss to Cape Verde in the final round of African Cup qualifiers as a further protest against what he called the "amateur" national federation.

The second leg against Cape Verde is at home in Yaounde on Oct. 14, with a place at next year's African championship in South Africa on the line.

The former Barcelona and Inter Milan striker was apparently convinced to return for that crucial game following the firing of Frenchman Denis Lavagne as coach after the loss in Cape Verde and the return of Akon, who led Cameroon to the Olympic title as coach in 2000. Eto'o also played on that team.

Cameroon is a four-time African Cup winner, with Eto'o part of the squad for two of those titles, in 2000 and 2002. He has played 109 times for his country and scored 53 goals.