Egypt manager Carlos Queiroz said that Cameroon federation president Samuel Eto'o was out of line with his comments that urged the Africa Cup of Nations hosts to prepare for "war" against their semifinal opponents ahead of Thursday's meeting.
The two teams will square off at the Olembe Stadium on Thursday -- only 10 days after eight people lost their lives and 38 were injured, seven seriously, during a stampede outside of the venue ahead of Cameroon's last-16 win over Comoros.
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In a video shared by the team's media outlet FECAFOOT TV following Cameroon's 2-0 quarterfinal victory over Gambia, Eto'o is shown speaking to the squad ahead of the semifinal as they look to reach the tournament showpiece for the first time since 2017.
"We have one objective, our next [game], it's Thursday," Eto'o said. "Everything you've done, you need to capitalise on it. Prepare yours, because it will be a war, my guys, a war.
"That's how you have to get fired up for this one -- a war."
Eto'o won two AFCON trophies and an Olympic gold medal with the Indomitable Lions, as well as several club titles with Barcelona.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Queiroz said the comments by Eto'o star were "unfortunate."
"It's an unfortunate comment and a very bad message to the people of Cameroon," Queiroz said. "I think he forgot that Cameroonian people died at the stadium several days ago, and so making this declaration of war before one game shows that he learned nothing from his time in professional football.
"It was a very, very unfortunate comment, because football is not about war, it's about celebration, joy and happiness.
"We are going to answer to war with football, we're going to answer football with joy," he continued. "We're here to please the people, not to make people die, but to give them fun and some joy."
After removing one quarterfinal from the Olembe Stadium while an investigation into the cause of the deadly stampede took place, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced on Sunday that the Cameroon-Egypt semifinal and the Feb. 6 final would be held at the 60,000-seater stadium only after additional safety measures were to implemented.
CAF, the local organising committee and the Cameroonian government have established greater security measures and mobilised increased resources in order to ensure the safety and security of match-going fans.
Ex-Real Madrid head coach Queiroz also pressed CAF to take action against the Eto'o.
"There are people who are starving whose only moment of happiness is when their team wins a match," Queiroz continued. "So to challenge the Cameroon team to come and play war against us is something I have to leave to CAF, because one comment like this is a red card.
"War is to protect people who die in the doors of the stadiums, people who don't have food to eat -- that is war."
On Monday, the Cameroon federation said that the players would donate their bonuses for qualification to the tournament knockout rounds to the victims of the stampede. Eto'o also paid visit to some of those still hospitalised following the crush.