Cameroon: Indomitable Lions End With a Whimper

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

Cameroon coach Volker Finke believes their first half performance against Brazil on Monday was the best of their World Cup, but adds they lacked the quality to contain the host nation who eventually romped to a 4-1 success.

It brings to an end Cameroon's stay at the tournament that is in all honesty one they would rather forget, a disastrous series of blunders and self-inflicted wounds that will take some time to heal.

Three matches, three defeats, nine goals conceded and just a single scored makes for dismal reading in a group where they might have expected much better.

Brazil, despite their timid start to the tournament, were always going to be the toughest of the three games and so there is no dishonor in the result.

It is what went before, losses to Mexico and Croatia, the latter in embarrassing, tempestuous circumstances, that leaves such a bitter taste in the mouth for Indomitable Lions fans.

In this final fling on Monday Cameroon played with more freedom, the shackles of expectation now gone.

It worked for 45 minutes when they more than matched their hosts and gave them a number of scares, but they could not keep it up for the full 90 minutes.

"It's hard to put your finger on everything right after a game," Finke told reporters. "In the first half we did well, despite conceding two goals. You've got to give to credit to Brazil, as they managed to create a lot of chances thanks to the quality they have. For that reason I'd say they deserved the win.

"Now's the moment to take some time out and analyse the reasons behind the campaign we've had. I think that, along with the first-half performance against Croatia, the first half today was the best we've played in this World Cup."

There is every possibility that Finke has taken part in his last fixture with the side, a fact he acknowledges as he awaits his fate from the Cameroon federation.

It is hard to blame the German coach for the poor campaign, there were deep divisions within this squad from before he arrived and to have even qualified them for the finals was a major achievement.

Brazil looked a bundle of nervous energy in the game and were only really freed from their shackles by the brilliance of Neymar.

They top Group A and go on now to meet Chile in the second round. If they were nervous for this game, that will be upped more than a few notches in the knockout stages as they come up against better and better teams.

This is not vintage Brazil side, they have some excellent players but also some glaring weaknesses. They do work hard for each other though and have a passionate, expectant following roaring them on all the way.

"We're making progress day by day, game by game, despite running into a few difficulties and ups and downs," coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said.

"Maybe we tried to hurry things a bit too much early on, when we scored our first goal and let anxiety get to us. We need to show more calm and composure.

"Fortunately we ironed out some flaws at half-time and after the break we used the ball better again.

"I've come up against Chile twice before and remember how difficult it was for us. They're a typical South American side: they're cunning, organised and have quality. If I could, I'd pick a different team for us to face."

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