Inconsistency plagued Cameroon’s World Cup qualifying campaign, with the team only able to win consecutive games once thanks to a match that was forfeited. Nonetheless, the Indomitable Lions reached Brazil 2014 and are now hoping to add to the foundation laid by new head coach Volker Finke.
WORLD CUP PROSPECTS
After finishing 31st in South Africa, Cameroon will be looking to get out of the group stage for the first time since 1990. They will have to do so by beating out Croatia and Mexico for second place as Brazil are heavy favorites to win the group.
This will likely be the last major tournament in Samuel Eto’o’s illustrious career and he will be looking to add to three World Cup goals he has already scored in his career.
Not much is expected of them but with Mexico not at the top of their games and Croatia having very little experience, the Lions could sneak into the knockout stage.
GROUP A SCHEDULE
STARS TO WATCH
Samuel Eto’o, F, Chelsea (at left): Cameroon’s captain might not be in the peak of his career anymore, but he is still capable of coming up with masterful performances. The 32-year-old came out of international retirement to score twice in a 2-1 qualifying victory vs. Togo, and he will surely be asked to replicate that type of outing once the balls get rolling in Brazil.
Alexandre Song, M, Barcelona: An experienced midfielder who has played at some of the biggest clubs in the world, Song was one of Cameroon’s regular faces in qualifying. The versatile 26-year-old brought leadership and quality for the Indomitable Lions, traits that were needed considering there was a coaching change just after the campaign began.
Jean Makoun, M, Rennes: Struggled to really nail down a starting spot throughout Cameroon’s eight qualifiers, but took a step towards that with his two-goal outing in the decisive 4-1 victory over Tunisia. The World Cup veteran, at worst, provided a talented weapon off the bench.
Volker Finke (at right) was handed his first national team assignment back in May 2013, replacing interim head coach Jean-Paul Akono. The 65-year-old had little time to familiarize himself with his new team as he was thrust into a pair of qualifiers a month later, but he successfully led the Indomitable Lions to their second consecutive World Cup.
A former player, the German was in charge of only clubs prior to being appointed Cameroon’s manager. He is known most for his 16-year tenure as head coach of SC Freiburg from 1991-2007.
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
WCQ record: 4-1-1, 13 pts. / 8 GF, 3 GA (first place in Africa’s Group I); 1-0-1 in playoff vs. Tunisia / 4 GF, 1 GA
A 4-1-1 record in group play followed by a 4-1 aggregate victory in a playoff may indicate a rather easy road to the World Cup, but that was not the case for Cameroon. The African powerhouse was inconsistent in the group stage and benefitted from a 2-0 loss to Togo turning into a 3-0 victory after it was ruled that the Sparrow Hawks fielded an ineligible player. The Cameroonians then played to a scoreless first leg with Tunisia in their playoff before winning big at home.
WORLD CUP HISTORY
Cameroon continue to be one of the regulars from Africa to reach the World Cup. The Indomitable Lions have now made it to six of the last seven tournaments (the lone exception being Germany 2006) but will be aiming to break their trend of failing to move past the group stage, which they did only in Italy 1990.
Cameroon and the US men’s national team have only met once, playing to a scoreless draw on June 23, 2003, in a Confederations Cup group-stage match in Lyon, France. … On-loan Colorado Rapids forward Charles Eloundou earned his first cap with Cameroon in 2013. … A handful of other Cameroonians currently ply their trade in MLS, including Columbus Crew midfielder Tony Tchani and young New York Red Bulls winger Marius Obekop. … Cameroon legend Eto’o had previously been linked with a move to Toronto FC.