The striker had confirmed that he will sit out the match but now insists he will fight to be ready, while the Croats can bring back the Bayern Munich forward following suspension
By Sam Lee in Manaus
Samuel Eto’o is battling to be fit for Wednesday’s match between Cameroon and Croatia in Manaus, with both sides well aware that defeat would spell the end of their World Cup dreams.
Both Brazil and Mexico have four points following their draw in Fortaleza on Tuesday, leaving the losers in Manuas out of the tournament with zero points from two games.
Eto’o exacerbated a knee problem during the first-round defeat to Mexico, and the team doctor insisted he needed 10 days to recover. But the striker has been playing through the pain for the past three-four months, and says he will wait until the morning of the match to see if he can play.
Heaviliy strapped | Eto'o struggled through training on the eve of the match
If he does miss out, coach Volker Finke – or his four Cameroonian assistants - could bring in Pierre Webo or Vincent Aboubakar, or move Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting to the middle. It looks likely that Finke will stick with the three central midfield players from the first match, as they look to over-power Croatia’s creative but diminutive duo Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric.
Whatever happens, they will have to do better than in their first match when they managed just one shot on target – and that was in the 91st minute. Croatia should have Modric available despite the Real Madrid midfielder going to hospital with foot pain after the controversial 3-1 loss to Brazil.
Mario Mandzukic will also be back in the line-up after serving a suspension against Brazil.
This will be the first ever meeting between the sides, and the first time Croatia meet an African team at the World Cup.
The conditions in Manaus – still humid despite the temperature having cooled since Italy’s victory over England on Saturday - could play a part in the outcome, although the local fans are sure to boo any slow or overly defensive play yet again.
And they may well have plenty to complain about considering the two teams’ World Cup form: in their respective last five matches at this level, Cameroon have lost every time and Croatia are without a win.