World Cup 2014 Group A – Cameroon

Outright odds: 1000/1

To win group: 33/1

To qualify: 5/1

 

Full squad: Charles Itandje (Konyaspor), Sammy Ndjock (Fetihespor), Loic Feudjou (Coton Sport); Allan Nyom (Granada), Dany Nounkeu (Besiktas), Cedric Djeugoue (Coton Sport), Aurelien Chedjou (Galatasaray), Nicolas Nkoulou (Marseille), Henri Bedimo (Lyon), Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Tottenham Hotspur); Eyong Enoh (Antalyaspor), Jean Makoun (Rennes), Joel Matip (Schalke), Stephane Mbia (QPR), Landry Nguemo (Bordeaux), Alex Song (Barcelona), Edgar Salli (Lens); Samuel Eto’o (unattached), Eric Choupo Moting (Mainz), Benjamin Moukandjo (Nancy), Vincent Aboubakar (Lorient), Pierre Webo (Fenerbahce), Fabrice Olinga (Zulte-Waregem).

 

Manager: Volker Finke

 

World Cup record: Quarter-finalists (1990), Five-time group stage (1982, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2010)

 

 

Everybody remembers Cameroon. After all, who could forget Italia 90’ – stunning the world while becoming the first African team to reach the quarter finals while also beating Argentina in their opening game, and to add to that, also beating Colombia in the last 16. That, however, was the last time they made it out of the group and all the signs point to this being yet another disappointing tournament for the indomitable Lions.

 

 

Volker Finke’s side have struggled at this level, winning 4 of their 20 matches at the World Cup with three of those victories coming 24 years ago, and the way they made it to Brazil suggests that this time could be no different. Cameroon beat Tunisia 4-1 in a playoff to reach Brazil, but without being awarded a gam for Togo fielding an ineligible player, would have finished only one point clear of a section that contained Libya and DR Congo.

 

 

Upped in class the likeliness is that they will struggle badly once again, although they are not without the tools to make their mark. Samuel Eto’o’s presence hasn’t been appreciated all of the time in the setup  – served a seven-match ban in 2011 for leading a players’ boycott in a row over unpaid match fees and the Cameroon prime minister once had to persuade him to play in 2012 – but he was Chelsea’s best forward for much of the season and Vincent Aboubakar scored 16 in Ligue 1, second only to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Eric Maxim Choupo-Mouting did get into double figures for Mainz in the Bundesliga.

Alex Song has had minimal impact at Barcelona but a lack of game time may not be a bad thing given the energy likely to be extended in games at Natal and Manaus, although his role for country isn’t as effective as the breakthrough role he once had for Arsenal. Stephane M’Bia may be the biggest influence, having enjoyed a fine season for Europa League winning Seville, and his roaming influence will be badly needed.

 

 

However it is in defence where the real worries come. Nicolas N’Koulou and Aurelien Chedjou do have top level European experience from the Champions League but they let in 8 goals in qualifying even if you take the 3-0 Togo win, and they face much stronger forward lines here for a start, and their 5-1 trashing by Portugal when they let in 4 in 25 minutes, even back in March, is an ominous sign here. Out wide Bedimo and Nyon got plenty of gametime for Lyon and Granada respectively but neither impressed hugely and the pair may be vulnerable at this exalted level as shown by previous tournament experience and this could be a short stay but a long ordeal for Cameroon.

 

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