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World Cup 2014 Guide: Cameroon

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The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon may well be the most successful side in the history of African football but they are no longer the best the continent has to offer.  They make their 7th World Cup this year, but with a tough group their chances of making memories in Brazil are slim.

Cameroon’s Footballing History

Ever since Africa received more than one World Cup place for the first time in 1982, Cameroon have been almost ever present at the tournament.  In their outing in Spain, they were eliminated without losing a game, with three draws not being enough to progress.

Cameroon won their first African Cups of Nations in the 80s with wins against Nigeria in both the 1984 and 1988 tournaments.  The side could well have set up a three in a row with a win in 1986, but they lost on penalties to hosts Egypt.

1990 is when Cameroon made themselves famous, with sensational wins over reigning world champions Argentina and a strong Romanian side taking them into the knockout stages.  There they beat Colombia with the veteran Roger Milla netting twice in extra time, and performing his famous corner flag dance, to see them through to the quarter-finals, a first for an African side.  Cameroon put up a great fight against England in the last 8, before eventually losing in extra time.

Cameroon qualified for the next three World Cups and again in 2010 but couldn’t capture the same form.  An Olympic win in 2000 and two successive African Cup of Nations wins in 2000 and 2002 cemented their status as the best side in Africa, but their failure to qualify for the 2006 World Cup and their three defeats in 2010’s tournament has meant that they are no longer seen as the threat they once were.

Cameroon’s Road to the Finals

Qualification for Cameroon was relatively straightforward this time around, winning Group I by four points ahead of Libya to go through to a play-off tie against Tunisia for the honour of going to Brazil.  After a drab 0-0 draw in Tunis, Cameroon made sure of their World Cup place with a 4-1 win at home – with Pierre Webo scoring the first goal just 4 minutes in to send them on their way to a routine victory.

Cameroon’s Key Players

The main man for Cameroon is easily their captain and all-time top goalscorer Samuel Eto’o, who currently plays for Chelsea.  He is their main attacking threat, and will hope to have a good tournament to help his fight for the lead striking role at his club.  At the age of 33 it may well be his last World Cup, although he may well follow in compatriot Milla’s footsteps and become one of the tournaments oldest players in 2018.

Cameroon are a relatively attacking team and have players that are effective in going forward.  Alex Song has done well to secure a place for himself in the Barcelona team and acts as the anchor of Cameroon’s midfield.  Youngsters Maxim Chaupo-Moting and Vincent Aboubakar often accompany Eto’o up front for the Lions with success.  Aboubakar was joint second top scorer in France’s Ligue 1 this year behind only Zlatan Ibrahimovic.  However, it’s unlikely that all three strikers will be starting for Cameroon in the World Cup with the opposition they face.

Cameroon’s Group

Cameroon have the honour of being in a group along with hosts and favourites Brazil as well as Croatia and Mexico.   With such strong sides in their path, it’s little wonder that Cameroon are one of the tournament’s biggest outsiders.  The Lions kick off their campaign in Natal against Mexico on the 13th of June (5pm, ITV) before heading into the Amazon to face Croatia five days later (11pm, ITV).  Cameroon’s final game of the group stage is in the capital Brasilia against the hosts on the 23rd (9pm, ITV).

Prediction

The odds are stacked against Cameroon and I see them leaving this World Cup point-less again.  Both Mexico and Croatia will have eyes on a tasty potential clash against Spain, Chile or Holland and Brazil will be looking much further ahead.  All will see Cameroon as a chance to get points on the board.  The chance of an upset can never be ruled out at a World Cup, but I’m afraid the Indomitable Lions might leave the tournament with a whimper rather than a roar this year.

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About Author

Steven Kellow is a Ross County fan currently exiled as a student in Aberdeen. Aside from following the Staggies and Scottish football in general, he takes an interest in the more obscure and abstract features of the beautiful game: analysing football history, competitions and the side of football off the pitch. Enjoys writing about a range of topics apart from football too. He can actually understand BBC Alba commentary also.

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