Eto’o’s big test against Japan today
BLOEMFONTEIN – After shrugging off criticism from Roger Milla and deciding not to skip the World Cup, Samuel Eto’o will get his first chance today against a struggling Japan line-up to prove that he can produce his best footballfor Cameroon.
The Indomitable Lions’ preparations have been overshadowed by a nasty spat between Eto’o and Cameroon great Milla, who questioned the Inter Milan striker’s performances for the national team.
Eto’o, who is Cameroon’s all-time leading international scorer with 42 goals, threatened he’d miss the marquee event, but decided the first World Cup in Africa was too important to skip.
And he has the full support of Cameroon coach Paul Le Guen.
“He is my captain, a great player, one of the best players in the world and he wants to do well,” said Le Guen, adding that Eto’o “is fit, he is ready to fight and be a good captain for us during this World Cup.”
Eto’o didn’t lead from the front in the recent warm-up matches. After getting sent off in the 3-1 loss to Portugal for picking up a second booking, he missed the 4-3 loss to Serbia.
Those two losses and three draws mean Cameroon hasn’t registered a win in five matches, despite a glut of talent including Arsenal midfielder Alex Song, Tottenham defenders Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Sebastien Bassong and Mallorca striker Pierre Webo.
Against Japan, Le Guen has plenty of offensive firepower, but is wary of a fast Japanese attack against his defensive line that has leaked seven goals in the last two matches.
“I have watched many videos of Japanese football over and over, and I know their strongest weapon is that they have very swift attackers,” Le Guen said. “We’ve worked very hard to deal with that and as concerns Monday’s match, I’m full of confidence.”
While Cameroon’s form hasn’t been outstanding, Japan’s has been worse.
The Japanese have recorded four consecutive losses in the run up to the tournament, scoring just one goal in that stretch as coach Takeshi Okada has consistently tinkered with his line-up in a bid to find the best balance.
Okada downplayed concerns over his team’s recent scoring troubles, saying “goals are always an issue for every team”. He also brushed aside criticism that his squad was too defensive-minded, and promised Japan would not sit back against Cameroon. (AP)