By Nick Said, 22 June 2014 –allAfrica.com
Cameroon will be desperate to end their 2014 World Cup on a high when they play hosts Brazil in their final Group A clash, with the host nation not yet certain of a passage into the second round.
Dismal defeats to Mexico and Croatia have ended the Indomitable Lions’ chances of a second-round place, but after a backlash of criticism in the wake of those games, they are presented with the opportunity to prove a point.
Coach Volker Finke, who must know his job is under serious threat after a desperately disappointing showing in the finals, will be especially keen to see his side show at least some fight – and not amongst each other as was the case in the 4-0 mauling by Croatia.
Cameroon football was hailed as a standard-bearer for Africa in the wake of the 1990 World Cup in Italy and in the years since the Lions have consistently qualified for soccer’s global showpiece.
But that has almost been despite themselves. Divisions within the squad, battles with administrators and players seemingly wearing the shirt for personal career advancement rather than a passion for the flag have taken over.
This is their moment to put that all behind them as they take on the host nation and pre-tournament favourites. Any sort of positive result, even a draw, will be seen as a major plus and something for this team to build on as they attempt to qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco next year.
Fink has some big decisions to make, not least whether he should include left-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who attempted to head-butt teammate Benjamin Moukandjo in the closing minutes of the game against Croatia.
The coach must also decide whether to try and play a clearly unfit Samuel Eto’o, though that decision may yet be taken out of his hands if the player is deemed unavailable by medical staff.
He will need to find a replacement for Alex Song, who is suspended following his red card against the Croats, with Jean Il Makoun his likely replacement.
A defeat for Brazil, as unlikely as it may seem, could see them tumble out of the competition if Croatia and Mexico draw.
What is perhaps of more concern to Brazil is to top Group A and avoid the Netherlands in the second round, though that would still mean a tricky tie against red-hot Chile.
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