Despite possessing a whole host of defensive and midfield talent as well as attacking brilliance, it was Cameroon
The game against Denmark was a barnstorming encounter as the Cameroonians came out with a fire in their bellies and demonstrated far more industry and desire than during their first group game against Japan. Yet, with the Gods not quite lending their full support to Paul Le Guen’s Indomitable Lions during the match against the Danes, they were left severely rueing their insipid performance against the Japanese.
It is rather eerie that the two teams who have most been surrounded by talk of disharmony and in-fighting within their respective camps have been Cameroon and France – two teams coached by Frenchmen. What is it about the French that seems to create controversy, commotion and a divisive fug amongst the squads they guide? That is perhaps an unanswerable question, but in the case of Paul Le Guen and Cameroon, it was the former Rangers manager’s tactical decisions for the game with Japan that have scuppered one of six opportunities for African last-16 progression.
His choice to play star man and skipper Samuel Eto’o on the right hand side, in a role he occupied regularly for Inter Milan last season in their triple winning side, was monumentally ill-advised. Although he played in that position with enormous success for Inter, it does not automatically mean his inclusion in that position for his national side will amount to the same successful equation. Furthermore, his decision to omit Alexandre Song was also bizarre, and clearly unpopular with the team. The reinstatement of Eto’o in his more dangerous central striking role and Song on the starting teamsheet for yesterday’s Denmark contest was a simple admission of his mistakes in the first game, but despite his efforts to rectify them and get his team back on track and singing from the same hymn sheet, the bare fact of the matter is, just a few innocent solecisms can be fatal in a World Cup.
Today’s most potentially lick-lipping contest sees Brazil tackle Sven Goran Eriksson’s Ivory Coast in the much-billed ‘Group of Death’. After two sublime goals against Korea DPR, the Brazilians will surely offer another batch of purely mesmerising football as they look to all but book their place in the Round of 16. As with the recurring trend in this World Cup thus far, the African representatives were distinctly average against Portugal in their first group fixture as they settled for a goalless draw. As a result, they should come out blazing and look for a win, as they will not want to make the same mistake as Cameroon, or, for that matter, England. With the array of attacking potency in both squads, we can justifiably expect an exciting encounter with plenty of flair.