Cameroon star Samuel Eto’o has bowed to presidential pressure and agreed to return to the international fold in a bid to help his country qualify for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
Eto’o, Africa’s most heavily decorated player, was banned for 15 months (subsequently reduced to eight months) for leading Cameroon’s boycott of a friendly match against Algeria last year.
After serving his ban the former Barcelona striker who is now based with Russian top-flight side Anzhi Makhachkala was recalled to the national squad on August 25, but refused to return, labelling the national side “amateurish and poorly organised”.
But after a word in his ear from Cameroon President Paul Biya, the 31-year-old is now prepared to call off his self-imposed exile and come back into the international fray.
“Samuel Eto’o is returning with the Indomitable Lions,” the four-time African Player of the Year declared on his website.
“After a request from the highest authority in the Republic I agreed to reconsider my position and to put myself at the disposal of the Lions.”
On Tuesday Eto’o held talks with Cameroon Prime Minister Philemon Yang, with Cameroon’s new coach Jean Paul Akono also attending.
His return is timely with Cameroon requiring a pick-me-up in their attempt to qualify for the 2013 Nations Cup in South Africa which starts next January after losing 2-0 to the modest Cape Verde in the first leg of the final round of qualifying.
Cameroon, four time winners of the continental crown, are desperately hoping to make the finals after missing out on the 2012 edition.
Eto’o is set to reclaim the captain’s armband for the return leg against Cape Verde on October 14 in Yaounde.