19 June 2014

Africa: Ill-Disciplined Cameroon Out of World Cup

Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Alexander Song apologises for a foul in Cameroon's clash with Mexico. He went on to be red-carded in the match against Croatia.

Cameroon's hopes of reaching the second round at this year's World Cup in Brazil ended in disarray after a crushing 4-0 loss to Croatia at the Arena da Amazônia in Manaus on Wednesday.

Needing a win to stay in contention for a place in the Last 16, they fell behind early to a goal from Ivica Olic and then had midfielder Alex Song sent-off five minutes before halftime.

It was always going to be difficult after that and so it proved as Ivan Perisic netted three minutes into the second period and Mario Mandzukic added two more to complete the humiliation for the Indomitable Lions.

The game ended in a farce as left-back Benoît Assou-Ekotto attempted to land a head-butt on teammate Benjamin Moukandjo as their frustration boiled over into the ridiculous.

The African side, who lost 1-0 to Mexico in their opener, were always going to struggle when talismanic striker Samuel Eto'o was ruled out of the game, and coach Volker Finke will be disappointed with the lack of discipline - tactical and mental - shown in the game.

Croatia now need to beat Mexico in their final Group A game on Monday to ensure of a second round place, or if they are to draw that game they would hope that Cameroon can do them the most unlikely of favours by defeating hosts Brazil.

The Indomitable Lions actually made the brighter start to the game by creating a couple of half-chances before they fell behind to veteran Croatia striker Olic on 11 minutes, who converted a square-ball from Perisic.  If they were to find a way back into the game then it would need cool heads, but Song lost his as he punched Mandzukic in the back after the pair had tussled for the ball in the 40th minute.

It was a clear red card and an eighth sending off for Cameroon since the 1982 World Cup finals - no side has received more.

Croatia's second goal arrived on 48 minutes and although it was a superb solo effort from Perisic, Cameroon were once again the architects of their own downfall. Goalkeeper Charles Itandje fluffed his clearance straight to the winger on the left, he beat one defender and blasted the ball home at the near post.

Cameroon were now in disarray and after Mandzukic had missed a simple opportunity, he did extend Croatia's lead just past the hour-mark. He was allowed a free header among seven Cameroon defenders who barely showed any interest in going for the ball from a corner.

And Mandzukic completed the rout when Eduardo's low cross was palmed into his path by Itandje and he had the simplest of tasks in tapping home.

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