NAPLES, JUNE 23 -- The oldest Lion roared. Younger ones on the bench did the wave. Yes! Cameroon -- the Indomitable Lions and the joy of the 1990 World Cup -- did it again.
The 38-year-old Roger Milla, who unretired in May, stunned Colombia today in extra time with two goals for a 2-1 victory that advanced the irrepressible Lions to a July 1 quarterfinal match here with the winner of England-Belgium.
No African team had ever before reached the quarterfinals of the Cup.
The soul and driving force of the team, Milla scored both goals in a 2-1 victory over Romania in the first round that followed Cameroon's even more shocking upset of defending Cup champion Argentina, 1-0. With nothing to gain completing first-round play against the Soviet Union, the Lions took a 4-0 snooze.
But opening the single-elimination second round today, the Lions awakened.
"I'm very happy for myself and my companions," said the French-speaking Milla. His companions were happy when he unretired; their joy now knows no bounds.
Several Cameroon players tossed their green jerseys into the stands among rejoicing fans.
Their Soviet coach, Valeri Nepomniachi, was asked if the Lions can possibly keep winning. He rolled his eyes and shook his head and said something one would suspect was a typical coach's sidestep for an answer. But then came the translation into six languages and the English version of the Lion-keeper's reply was unmistakably optimistic, one might even say appropriately ferocious.
"Playing like this," he said, "I think we will continue."
This represents almost euphoria because today four Lions received their their second yellow cards of the tournament, and so will be ineligible to play the quarterfinal game.
"This is a big problem for our team," Nepomniachi said. "But I think the substitutes will behave in just the same way as the team did today."
Both popular teams, Cameroon and Colombia played as if enjoying themselves heartily, sprinting at one another until the full 90 minutes passed in a scoreless tie. After a five-minute rest, two consecutive 15-minute extra periods began. Sudden death does not exist in World Cup soccer. It can be a slow, painful death.
Milla's four goals overall puts him among the World Cup scoring leaders. Power off the bench, Milla entered the game early in the second half, according to him, "just the right time."
In the 106th minute, looking fresher than younger Lions, he broke between two Colombian defenders and blew the ball past wild-haired Rene Higuita, known in his country as "El Loco" because he often strays far from the goal.
That's where Higuita was two minutes later, halfway to midfield trying to help Colombia regain a tie before the end of extra time. But that's also where Milla was. Inelegant as it may sound, but perfectly beautiful to behold, he picked Higuita's foot clean.
Milla had the run of his life straight for the Colombian open net, Higuita giving futile chase but with no chance to overcome anyone with the heart of this lion.
Desperately, Colombia surged for a goal in the 115th minute. Bernardo Redin converted after taking a pass from Carlos Alberto Valderrama, the brilliant mop-headed midfielder known as "El Pibe" -- "The Kid."
It was an extraordinary game played in a spectacular setting, a rare meetings of teams from different parts of the world before 50,026 on the perfectly clipped grass of Stadio San Paolo. The stadium might be dismissed as only a concrete bowl if it weren't for the breathtaking beauty that surrounds it and the rituals that take place within it.
Vesuvius itself looms above the city. Beyond the rim of the stadium are apartments close enough for residents to have watched the game live if it hadn't been on television. Wash hung from small clotheslines strung across balconies. To the north, hills jutted sharply into a blue sky. Less than a mile to the south, the Bay of Naples beckoned.
Now Naples also will be remembered as the place where the "Lions of Africa" gained strength as a memorable game went on, and recognition that no one in the 1990 World Cup dare toy with roaring Cameroon.
Cameroon....0....0....2....2 FIRST HALF Scoring: None.SECOND HALF Scoring: None.FIRST OVERTIME Scoring: 1, Cameroon, Milla 3, 106th minute. 2, Cameroon, Milla 4, 109th minute. 3, Colombia, Redin 2 (Valderrama), 116th minute.Yellow Cards: Kana Biyik, Cam, 44th minute; N'Dip, Cam, 46th minute; Mbouh, Cam, 68th minute; Perea, Col, 72nd minute; Ga.Gomez, 73rd minute; Onana, Cam, 117th minute.Red Cards: None.Referee: Lanese (Italy). Linesmen: Ulloa (Costa Rica), al-Sharif (Syria).A: 50,026.
Czechoslovakia 4, Costa Rica 1: In the day's second game, in Bari, powerful striker Tomas Skuhravy scored on three headers to propel Czechslovakia into the quarterfinals for the first time since 1962, when it was runner-up to Brazil.
Skuhravy, who took the tournament scoring lead with five goals -- he had two against the United States -- put Czechoslovakia in front in the 12th minute and put in another header in the 63rd minute after defender Ronald Gonzalez had tied it for the Central Americans in the 56th minute.
Costa Rica........0....1....1 FIRST HALF Scoring: 1, Czechoslovakia, Skuhravy 3 (Moravcik), 12th minute.SECOND HALF Scoring: 2, Costa Rica, Gonzalez 1 (Ramirez), 56th minute. 3, Czechoslovakia, Skuhravy 4 (Kubik), 63rd minute. 4, Czechoslovakia, Kubik 1, 77th minute. 5, Czechoslovakia, Skuhravy 5 (Kubik), 83rd minute.Yellow Cards: Gonzalez, CR, 5th minute; Hasek, 53rd minute; Kocian, Cze, 56th minute; Straka, Cze, 67th minute; Marchena, CR, 75th minute.Red Cards: None.Referee: Kirschen (East Germany). Linesmen: Perez Hoyos (Colombia), D'Elia (Italy).A: 47,673.