Cameroon: It's Do or Die for Indomitable Lions

analysis

Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Alexander Song apologises for a foul in Cameroon's clash with Mexico.

Cameroon's opening round loss to Mexico means they face a must-win clash against Croatia in Manaus on Wednesday - and they must do it without their star, Samuel Eto'o.

OVERVIEW

After both Cameroon and Croatia lost their opening matches in the tournament, each faces a must-win clash to keep their hopes of the second round alive.

A draw may suit Croatia as they still have Mexico to play, while Cameroon's final fixture will be against the might of Brazil.

Despite both coming off defeats, there was a difference in the manner of those defeats that is significant.

While Cameroon went down with a whimper to the Mexicans, Croatia gave an excellent amount of themselves in a 3-1 loss to Brazil, where the home side received a controversial penalty with the scores at 1-1 and then netted a third late on.

Cameroon know they will be without Samuel Eto'o, whose long-term knee injury kept his mobility low against Mexico and has ensured he will miss this match with Croatia.

Whether he will be back for the final game against Brazil on Monday remains to be seen, though a half-fit Eto'o is really no help to a side that lacked pace and movement in their opener.

There are a number of candidates to take his place in the side, not least the experienced Achille Webo.

Cameroon will also want a more assured display in defence. They may have conceded only one against Mexico, but the Central American side had two good goals disallowed and wasted a number of other good opportunities.

The indomitable Lions looked nervous and frail and nervous at the back and will hope that it was just opening night jitters.

Croatia have plenty of attacking intent in their team - Luka Modrić, new Barcelona signing Ivan Rakitić and striker Mario Mandžukić are all potential match winners.

KEY PLAYERS

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (Cameroon) - No Samuel Eto'o means the goalscoring duties will fall elsewhere and Cameroon will likely look to the Bundesliga player to fill the void. He looked lively against Mexico and had a goal (rightly) disallowed. The Hamburg-born star, who now plays for Mainz, will be their major threat.

Luca Modric (Croatia) - The Real Madrid playmaker is regarded by many as a football genius with his ability to unlock even the tightest of defences. He will get major attention from the Cameroon players and that alone will be an advantage to his side, freeing up other players to work their magic.

WHAT THEY SAY

Volker Finke (Cameroon coach) - "We will analyze this together because the match against Croatia is very important if we want to stay alive. They are in the same situation as us, they lost their opener. If you have zero points after the first game, you do not talk too much, you just have to win at all costs. Croatia is a team that has good players.

There are players who play at clubs in Spain, at Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, in the Bundesliga... it is clear that this is a good team."

Niko Kovac (Croatia coach) - "What we have shown on the (field) was great. What I can see in players' eyes is their desire to make up for what we have lost in the opener."

MATCH FACTS

Date: Wednesday, June 18

Kick-off: 22h00 (GMT)

Venue: Arena da Amazônia, Manaus

Referee: Pedro Proença (Portugal)

CAMEROON HEAD-TO-HEAD VS CROATIA

This will be a first ever meeting between the two nations.

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