Cameroon leaving with “heads high”
BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) – Cameroon captain Samuel Eto’o will not start against Brazil, further hampering the African team’s chances of upsetting the hosts in their World Cup match today.
Cameroon coach Volker Finke said yesterday that Eto’o had not recovered from a knee injury that also kept him out of a 4-0 defeat against Croatia that ensured the Africans’ early exit from the tournament.
Finke said his players want to leave the World Cup with their “heads high” after a dismal run that also saw them lose 1-0 to Mexico.
Brazil lead Group A with four points. Mexico also have four points, but trail on goal difference. Croatia, which play Mexico today, have three.
For the hosts, the permutations range from winning the group to a shock exit, depending on results.
Brazil players are wary of Cameroon in what will be their first competitive meeting since 2003, when the Africans stunned the then world champions 1-0 in the Confederations Cup.
Finke said the hosts have every right to be nervous.
“It is obvious that this will be a difficult match for Brazil because they need the result and they are under pressure,” Finke said. “We have no pressure. We have prepared for the match as if we could qualify.”
Cameroon have been nothing like their 1990 World Cup side, which beat defending champion Argentina in the opening match before going on to reach the quarter-finals.
“Obviously, we are disappointed,” Finke said. “After these two defeats, we want to show good face, preserve reputation and leave on a good note.”
The Africans will be without defensive midfielder Alex Song, who was red-carded against Croatia. Finke said striker Eto’o, the team’s best and most experienced player, has not recovered from a right knee injury and will “definitely” not start.
Finke, however, said the Chelsea player might play “for a few minutes” in what could be his last match at a World Cup.
To make things worse, Cameroon’s football federation could still punish two of the players for a scuffle late in the match against Croatia. Benoit Assou-Ekotto head-butted teammate Benjamin Moukandjo in what Finke described as “disgraceful behaviour””
He refused to say whether either of the two will play today.