Worst WC for Lions

Coach says he is leav­ing af­ter ad­mit­ting to mis­takes

Weekend Witness - - Sport -

CAPE TOWN — An ut­terly de­jected Cameroon went home with­out a sin­gle World Cup point yes­ter­day, af­ter a cam­paign marred by a bit­ter se­lec­tion row with their coach and a fail­ure to live up to the billing as Africa’s best team at the tour­na­ment.

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 down­cast mid­fielder Alexan­dre Song told re­porters.

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.

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.

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.

“A lot of things need chang­ing,” Stephane Mbia told Reuters af­ter the Nether­lands game, adding at times there had been a dif­fi­cult at­mos­phere.

“I think we played very well, but we had some very bad luck.” — Reuters.

PHOTO: AP

NELSPRUIT — For­mer Eng­land man­ager Sven­Go­ran Eriks­son be­lieves Eng­land can beat Ger­many in their World Cup show­down in Bloemfontein to­mor­row.

The 62­year­old Swede, who is in charge of the Ivory Coast at the World Cup fi­nals, said he will find a tele­vi­sion in Nelspruit and watch his for­mer team take on their World Cup neme­sis.

“I saw Eng­land’s match against Slove­nia [the English won 1­0 to qual­ify for the sec­ond round] and I thought Eng­land played well,” he said.

“I think they can beat Ger­many; it will be a huge game. I am go­ing to look at that on TV.”

Eriks­son was in charge of two Eng­land World Cup cam­paigns in 2002 and 2006, but never suc­ceeded in tak­ing the side be­yond the last eight.

— Sapa­AFP. Cameroon and Sa­muel Eto’o had a tour­na­ment to for­get, with plenty of prob­lems on and off the field.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.