Cameroon Camp Focus – Pride of Lions left dented

Pride was the order of the day for Cameroon as they said farewell to South Africa, playing out their last game of the World Cup against the Netherlands managing to net a consolation. The West Africans showed spirit in defeat displaying a bittersweet performance showing strength but also resignation.

Joining the Indomitable Lions in the African autopsy report are hosts South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria and almost certainly Ivory Coast, who were seeded in the group of death. Group E was not a particularly daunting pot in which to crawl out of and one could have argued that the Lions stood just as good a chance as Denmark and Japan. With Ghana now arguably the sole survivor flying the African flag, Cameroon will wonder where it all went wrong and how they imploded so quickly. Of course, the 23-man squad must all accept some degree of blame for this year’s fiasco, plummeting from a strong close knitted group just a couple of years ago in the African Nations Cup to a side mired by in-house politics and players who simply did not look like they wanted to be at the World Cup. Paul Le Guen was quick to shoulder responsibility and accept the blame but insisted he will not step down as Cameroon coach: “The coach must be accountable there were errors committed, they were my fault. I will not resign. I don’t have any regrets.”

If Paul Le Guen remains Cameroon Coach, then Cameroon are simply selling themselves short, Africa’s most successful nation do not deserve a semi-successful Coach but one who is certain he wants his hands on the steering wheel of such a prestigious footballing nation. The former PSG boss has something of a mixed track record and often appeared a man not enjoying his job in the Cameroon dugout, but rather forced into it. The Frenchman looks to continue his employment on the international level, whether this is in Africa remains to be seen as he has been widely tipped to take over Australia after the World Cup, succeeding Pim Verbeek. The Denmark game was arguably one of the most entertaining matches in the group, Le Guen cracked a very rare smile, whether it was because his side had netted at least a goal or because he knew his tenure as Cameroon coach was coming to an end remains unknown.

The Cameroonian campaign sends echoes of France’s catastrophe, an uncertain French Coach at the helm who failed to stamp a mark of assurance into the squad. Cameroon’s chances were hindered by a lack of unity within the squad not helped by Samuel Eto’o’s squabbling with Roger Milla and threats of withdrawal from the World Cup. Arsenal midfielder Alex Song stated before the clash with the Netherlands that “egos of some of us got the upper hand. There was a very bad atmosphere in the group.” Steering this disillusioned pack of Lions through the apparent straight path of the group stages – Paul Le Guen, like his fellow countryman Raymond Domenech, failed to tactically outthink his opposition, instead somehow managing to penetrate his own players’ style of play, changing it resulting in a sombre attitude from the offset causing the Cameroon path to zigzag.

Their last World Cup outing in Cape Town saw Cameroon aspiring to go out on a positive note hoping to give something back to their fans, Eto’o once again the hero scoring the consolation. The performance signified that the players, despite their problems, could muster an effort and lead a decent charge but strings from puppeteer Le Guen were hopelessly entangled. Endless comparisons to the Cameroon side of 1990 and the heavy reliance on Samuel Eto’o disjointed the Lions’ vision. It is now upon the F


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