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Soccer: Indomitable Lions' Special Shirts Turn Heads - 2002-01-23

African and Olympic football champion Cameroon is attracting attention at the 23rd Cup of Nations tournament in Mali not just for its performances on the field, but also for its fashion.

"The Indomitable Lions" of Cameroon lined up for their Nations Cup opener against "The Simbas" of the Democratic Republic of Congo wearing sleeveless shirts, like those of basketball players.

The sportswear company Puma designed the shirts especially for Cameroon's use in the sub-Saharan heat in Mali. After beating the DRC, 1-0, one of Cameroon's strikers, Patrick Suffo, described the new attire as a special shirt for a special team.

"The Indomitable Lions" are the only African team to have reached the World Cup quarterfinals, doing so in Italy in 1990. If they successfully defend their African title in Mali, they will tie the record for Nations Cup championships, which currently stands at four, held by Egypt and Ghana.

Star striker Patrick Mboma scored the goal for Cameroon in that Nations Cup match against the Congolese. He likes the unique, sleeveless shirts.

"I think they are okay, they are good," he says. "Let's wait and see if the shirts can give us a good chance to win the competition."

Patrick Mboma was voted the African Footballer of the Year in 2000, when he also helped Cameroon win the gold medal in men's soccer at the Olympics in Sydney. He and the other "Indomitable Lions" are expected to show off their new sleeveless shirts again Friday January 25 when Cameroon plays Ivory Coast in its next Nations Cup match.