Eto’o puts his coach on the spot
BOTH Cameroon and Denmark will have their backs to the wall when they meet in a World Cup Group E clash at the Loftus Versfeld stadium this evening.
Having lost their opening matches, both sides know that defeat in their second game of the group stages could spell the end of their interest in this year’s tournament.
If the Netherlands and Japan were to draw in the other group game, then a defeat would see either Cameroon or Denmark eliminated. But with two rivals already on three points, anything other than a victory will leave either side still with a mountain to climb in order to reach the knock-out phase.
And that’s something that has not been lost on Indomitable Lions midfielder Enoh Eyong Takang who believes the Africans must improve up front following their opening 1-0 defeat to Japan.
“It really is a do-or-die game. We must win it if we want a chance to progress,” he said. “We have to get the strike force going. We will have to score.” That was something they failed to do against the Japanese, despite dominating the second half.
Cameroon looked impotent in attack against a team that was considered by far the weakest in the group. One reason for that was coach Paul Le Guen’s decision to play star forward Samuel Eto’o wide right, a position he excelled in under Jose Mourinho for Inter Milan this season.
But Cameroon are not Inter and Mallorca’s Pierre Webo, who played through the middle, is not on the same level as Diego Milito, which made Le Guen’s decision even harder to comprehend as Eto’o was anonymous almost throughout the match.
And speaking to French TV channel Canal Plus, Eto’o left no mystery as to his feelings that his coach had made a mistake.
“At the end of the World Cup, Paul must answer to the officials. And me, as a player and captain, I must do the same,” he said.
“I played where the coach wanted. I gave it everything and I tried to put my team-mates in good positions to do their job.
“But I am the best scorer in the history of the Cameroon national team because I play in a certain position (central striker).”
It’s not just up front that the Indomitable Lions have problems, according to Monaco defender Nicolas Nkoulou, his team need to tighten up at the back as well.
“We lost a battle but not the war. Everyone’s behind us. It’s important to react on the pitch,” Nkoulou said.
“We’re not very happy with the number of goals we’ve conceded (eight in the last three games). We’ll do all we can to perform better come Saturday.”
Denmark are in an equally precarious position having lost their opener against the Netherlands 2-0.
They weren’t helped by an own goal from Daniel Agger but coach Morten Olsen said they have to forget that game and quickly focus on challenges ahead. “We still have two important games,” he said.
And he will be hoping that he can use Arsenal target-man Nicklas Bendtner for more than an hour, as he did against the Netherlands. “He couldn’t play any more. What we saw was fine and he will play again,” said Olsen.
Poulsen has a hard time getting over the own goal. “I have thought about it a thousand times,” he said. “Of course, I have tried to think about all the positive moments and I think the team and myself played a good first half. Yet the (own) goal keeps coming back.”
Danish fans have forgiven Poulsen, and he has not been lambasted by team-mates or Olsen. – Sapa-dpa & Sapa-AFP
QUESTIONED: Paul Le Guen