CAPE TOWN - An utterly dejected Cameroon
go home without a single World Cup point on Friday, after a
campaign marred by a bitter selection row with their coach and a
failure to live up to billing as Africa's best team at the
Boasting one of the world's best forwards in Samuel Eto'o
and a long World Cup pedigree, expectations were high that
Cameroon could progress from a group featuring Netherlands,
Japan and Denmark.
But this, their sixth World Cup, has turned out to be the
worst ever for the 1990 quarter-finalists, who lost all three
group games and were left rueing their terrible luck after
failing to find a winning touch despite some spirited football.
"We are very, very disappointed. The team did play well but
we didn't win," a visibly downcast midfielder Alexandre Song
His absence from a disastrous opening game against Japan
alongside that of seasoned defenders Geremi and Rigobert Song
caused friction between players and coach Paul Le Guen, who
later restored him and Geremi to his line-up against Denmark.
Despite taking an early lead, Cameroon conceded two goals to
the Scandinavians and became the first African team to exit the
tournament, with only a meaningless but potentially face-saving
tie left against Netherlands.
That game ended in a 2-1 defeat.
The dye had been cast with a 1-0 loss to Japan however, the
supposed whipping boys of the group, which stunned Cameroon and
triggered open revolt.
"We need to learn from this World Cup. We have talented
young players who want to be in good form by the next World
Cup," said Song, whose last-minute calf injury put him out of
the Netherlands game.
Le Guen who joined as Cameroon coach in July 2009 managed to
turn around the Indomitable Lions' stuttering World Cup
campaign. But his squad featured an uneasy mix of young yet
inexperienced talent and fading but influential veterans.
"Maybe I didn't succeed in unifying the team and bringing
the team together.... perhaps I made mistakes in the squad of 23
I chose," Le Guen said, adding he would be leaving his post.
"I thought the team would be a good mix of experience and
youth. I will not point fingers or accuse anyone," he added.
Le Guen made big changes, for example making Hamidou
Souleymanou his first-choice keeper in place of Idriss Carlos
Kameni who commanded the position for the past seven years.
Midfielder Achille Emana openly questioned Le Guen's choices
saying young players were being asked to do too much.
Captain Eto'o, three times Africa's footballer of the year,
was also much less effective than normal after playing in a
deeper role against Japan.
He had been criticised as having done nothing for his
country ahead of the tournament by former international Roger
Milla, who scored four goals during Cameroon's 1990 World Cup.
"A lot of things need changing," Stephane Mbia told Reuters
after the Netherlands game, adding at times there had been a
"I think we played very well but we had some very bad luck."
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