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World Cup team preview: Cameroon

by Mark Lee Armstrong Smith
May 24, 2014 6:37 PM BST



Having lurched into the World Cup via an uninspiring qualifying campaign, Cameroon will be looking for a vast improvement in Brazil as part of the process of rebuilding their reputation as a footballing nation - both across the world and in Africa.
They lost 2-0 away at Togo in their qualifying group, but the hosts' fielding of an ineligible player meant Cameroon were awarded a 3-0 win respectively, overturning a result that probably would have called a halt to their World Cup ambitions.
They went on to record an impressive 4-1 aggregate victory in their play-off against Tunisia, but Cameroon are unlikely to surprise anyone in Brazil - especially in a group containing the hosts and two talented mid-ranked sides.
The Perception:
Samuel Eto'o and nota whole lot else. A side with one genuine star who has to do everything himself to make up for his side's shortcomings and poor defence.
The Reality:
This is a side with a sturdy defence and a solid stopper in Charles Itandje - but goals are a real problem.
A second-half capitulation against Portugal was less solid - conceding four to lose 5-1 - suggesting that, contrary to the nickname, the Indomitable Lions might be a bit domitable.
The Boss:
Volker Finke spent 16 years at Freiburg before moving to Japan with Urawa Red Diamonds.
He was one of the brains behind the resurgence of the sport in Germany in the 1990's and was appointed Cameroon Coach in May 2013.
The Masterplan:
Setting up a team in a 4-4-3, German boss Finke has got Cameroon playing a possession game.
With Alex Song dictating the tempo, they like to get the ball into Vincent Aboubakar through the middle, allowing the wingers or full-backs to find space and when that fails they go long.
Strengths:
Defending is their main one, with Nicolas N'Koulou and Aurelien Chedjou forming an excellent centre-back partnership, and with revitalised Liverpool reject Itandje giving some fine performances between the sticks in qualifying, Cameroon will be hoping to at least shut teams out.
Weaknesses:
They lack creativity with seemingly no attacking midfielders, the team lack the vital connection between midfield and attack, meaning the talent upfront lacks the service to thrive.
Lessons from qualifying:
Stick with 4-3-3 will be a good place to start, Finke experimented with a diabolical 4-4-2 formation initially with a quartet of defensive midfielders in front of the back four.
The 4-3-3 used in the second leg of the play-off against Tunisia saw the team score more than they had in their previous five matches, running out 4-1 winners.
Key Player:
Charles Itandje, as his domestic career has slipped into obscurity he has become one of Cameroon's best performers.
He has made a number of match-winning saves, a particular highlight was the 0-0 first leg against Tunisia as he showed the sort of form that prompted Liverpool to sign him back in 2007.
He'll need more of the same against the likes of Neymar and Co.
Verdict:
Terrible showings at recent tournaments and a tough group suggest they won't progress.