Cameroon face Mexico in crucial opener
Cameroon will kick-off their seventh World Cup finals against Mexico on Friday at Estadio das Dunas in Natal in their Group A opening game.
The Indomitable Lions qualified for the Brazilian showpiece after defeating Tunisia in a two-legged play-off, and will now try to take inspiration from Cameroon’s triumphant 1990 campaign in Italy where they became the first African side to reach the quarterfinals of the tournament.
Skipper Samuel Eto’o and his teammates will also be eager to finally turn the page on their catastrophic display in the previous edition in South Africa, where they suffered an early exit following three consecutive losses.
Under the guidance of national coach Volker Finke since May 2013, the Lions seem to be roaring again after failing to qualify for the two previous African Cups of Nations finals.
And their good mix of experience (Nkoulou, Makoun, Enoh, Eto’o, Webo) and talented youngsters (Matip, Salli, Choupo-Moting, Aboubakar) could see them create a few surprises within their tough Group A.
But they will have to remain very cautious against a highly experience Mexican outfit.
Despite a very disappointing qualifying campaign in their CONCACAF zone which saw them go through at the last minute with a 9-3 aggregate thrashing of New-Zealand in a play-off, Mexico have 14 World Cup appearances under their belt, reaching the knock-out stage in the last five editions.
National coach Miguel Herrera will be able to count on hugely experienced defenders Rafael Marquez and Carlos Salcido, international stars Javier Hernandez and Giovani Dos Santos and 2012 Olympic Gold medallists Oribe Peralta, Raul Jimenez and Carlos Pena.
The two nations have already met on one occasion in a friendly in September 1993, with ‘El Tri’ enjoying a 1-0 home victory.
The other fixture of Group A will see host country Brazil face Croatia this Thursday in Sao Paulo in the opening game of the competition.