Cameroon plays its first group qualifying world cup match today June 13 2014 against Mexico at the Arena Das Natal in Brazil in the second match in Group 1. After host and favourites Brazil came from behind to defeat Croatia 3-1 late yesterday night, a win for either team will boast their chances of qualifying for the second round.
There are indications Lions Captain Samuel Eto’o Fils might not be in the start up line up but might still play despite taking part in only a few training sessions with the Lions due to injury. Jean Makoun also has injury worries and might not make the starting line up too.
Lions German coach Volke Finke will want his lead scorer Eto’o to still play to improve chances of a win and eventually qualification for round two. Finke has consistently insisted his team selection will depend on the players who can play effectively with team mates since the game needs team effort to win. In an interview published on the fecafoot website, Finke said he was more concerned with the performance of the present crop of players who for no reason, should be judged with the 1990 team that qualified for the quarter finals of the world cup. “It is important not to pressurize (the players) because of the past performance of the team” he said
Ebanda Ghislain, a Lions fan in Bamenda, North Western Cameroon doubts the teams chances of qualifying for round two. “I am not sure the Lions will progress in the competitions because they are in a very difficult group with host Brazil who will want to win the cup. Mexico and Croatia are no pushovers too”. A large number of supporters are not so sceptical. John Focha, Yaounde 1 university student said Cameroon will easily beat the Mexicans 2-1.
Cameroon and Mexico struggled to qualify for the world Cup and their record in the competition has been less than impressive. Since becoming the first African national team to qualify for the quarter finals in 1990, Cameroon has managed to win just one world cup game and that was 12 years ago when they won Saudi Arabia in 2002!
A measure of the disorganization in the Mexican team in the run-up to qualification is that the team used four coaches and at one point, almost two different teams! The present coach Miguel Herrera has managed to instil some coherence and discipline in the team which might make them a hard knock to crack. Mexico has never beaten an African team in the world cup so if it manages to beat Cameroon today, it will be setting a country record.
Mexico has qualified for fifteen world cups since its first participation in 1930 and is one of only six countries that have qualified for every single world cup since 1994. Mexico is also one of only three teams (the others being Germany and Brazil) to advance from the group stages of the world cup in the last five editions. Like Cameroon, Mexico has reached the quarter finals of the world Cup though they have done so one time more than Cameroon in 1970 and 1986. Both times, the world cup took place in Mexico.
Cameroon will set the pace for the four other African countries that are participating in the world cup and defeating the Mexicans will significantly boast moral in the other camps. Their haphazard preparations and strikes over match bonuses might have left a more permanent damage than most fans of the team will want to admit
Other matches scheduled for today will see cup holders Spain clash against The Netherlands in Salvador while Chile will play against Australia in Cuinba all in Group B matches.