COMMENT: The Indomitable Lions have given a poor account of themselves in their opening two games and not even a win over Brazil can redeem themBy Stefan Coerts in Brasilia
Heading into the 2014 World Cup, Cameroon were expected to challenge Croatia and Mexico for second spot in Group A behind favourites Brazil. Yet with their third game against the hosts yet to take place, Volker Finke’s men already know their tournament will be over after the group stage.
The disgrace is not going out at the first hurdle - it has happened to reigning champions Spain and England among others - but more the way in which Cameroon have performed.
The Indomitable Lions endeared themselves to the world with their energetic and attractive style of play at the 1990 World Cup, but have since done very little to back up claims they could one day become the first African team to be crowned world champions. In fact, they have won just once in 14 World Cup games between their Italia ’90 exit and the upcoming game against Brazil, a meagre 1-0 victory over Saudi Arabia in 2002.
Their hopes of improving that record in South America were doomed almost from the start due to a row over bonuses.
A deal between the players and the Cameroonian FA (Fecafoot) was eventually struck, but the damage was done.
Their focus went and it was no surprise Finke’s men lost their crucial opening game 1-0 against Mexico. They were lucky the assistant referee was having a bad day at the office or it would have been 3-0 for Miguel Herrera’s men after two goals were questionably ruled out for offside.
Their second group match versus Croatia was a must-win for Cameroon to keep their chances of reaching the round of 16 alive, yet they once more seemed to have their minds set on anything but playing football.
Barcelona midfielder Alex Song disgraced himself by earning the silliest of red cards after lashing out at Mario Mandzukic inside his own half with the score at 1-0 in the Croatians’ favour, thus effectively ending his side’s World Cup hopes.
Worse was to come, however, as Benoit Assou-Ekotto went one further and attempted to headbutt team-mate Ben Moukandjo in one of the most inexplicable actions ever seen at a World Cup.
When they came to Brazil, Cameroon stressed they were determined to make amends for their disappointing World Cup campaign in South Africa four years ago.
“We're coming here with a feeling of revenge, that's for sure," said Marseille defender Nicolas N'Koulou ahead of the tournament.
"We totally failed in 2010, but things are different now. We're a cohesive group and have a good mix of experience with some younger players.
"We're like a family, we're in good spirits and determined to give it everything to make the nation proud."
Regardless of N’Koulou’s positive words hardly one week ago, Cameroon proved to be anything but a family.
The bonus row, Song’s inexplicable dismissal and Assou-Ekotto’s violence are all signs that something’s seriously wrong with Cameroon. They travelled to South America to redeem themselves. Instead they just made matters worse and disgraced themselves.