Get Recruited Faster with a Player Profile on

Global Jul 17, 2012

Bethesda Lions win second straight Region I crown; now eager to vie for national trophy

By Roger Gonzalez

Bethesda Lions Under-14s have a coach who knows what it’s like to play on the biggest of stages.

Coach Emile M’Bouh, 46, is a former professional player. Born in Cameroon, M’Bouh played club soccer in France, Portugal, Qatar, Singapore and Malaysia, and played in two FIFA World Cups, the 1990 edition in Italy and the 1994 edition in the United States, as a member of the Cameroonian national team alongside the legendary Roger Milla and the rest of the “Indomitable Lions,” who helped put African soccer on the map.

Having represented his country well in the world’s biggest tournament, he wanted his Bethesda squad to do the same by winning the U.S. Youth Soccer Region I Championships in Lancaster, Pa., and secure a spot at nationals later this month.

The Lions cruised through the cup, culminating with a 2-0 win over Connecticut’s FSA FC Navy in the final.

“It means a lot because it’s a good achievement,” M’Bouh said.

“I think mentally, they were very strong. In the games, they had a lot of composure. We were always on top of the game. Some games, we were down, but we came back to win…It was very positive.”

The team won two games and tied one in the group stage, setting up a semifinal date with Empire United SA Buffalo of New York. But an early draw, a 3-3 tie against TSF Academy X of New Jersey in their opening match, raised eyebrows.

“The first game, we came out flat,” the coach said. “I didn’t like it too much.

“The rest of the games, we started playing our own game. I wasn’t concerned because our philosophy is, even if you are down, you have to keep going, have to step up your game. They kept playing better and better.”

The squad was led by Juan Ramirez, who bagged four goals.

This was the team’s second consecutive region title. The team won last year, but as U-14 is the youngest age for nationals (which will be modified to start at U-13 next season), this is the team’s first chance to win it all in South Carolina later this month.

“We are very excited,” M’Bouh said. “The team wants to play other champions and see how it goes.”

The veteran coach is reluctant to talk much about Lions’ prospects of winning it all. His mentality has always been to show the winning desire on the field, which his guys plan to do.

“I don’t like to talk before the games,” M’Bouh said. “I always tell my players that we just want to play.”

[ +Visit the Lions’ website to learn more ]

Featured Players

See Commitment List