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Cameroon's Indomitable Lions Fail to Roar at World Cup

Published on Tuesday 15th June 2010 Cameroon's Indomitable Lions Fail to Roar at World Cup

Cameroon had the lion’s share of the play against Japan at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Monday but there was nothing indomitable about their play as they suffered a surprise setback in the World Cup.

With matches to come against Denmark and the Netherlands in their opening round group, the African side’s chance plummeted after they conceded defeat to a silly defensive error and then failed to capitalise on overwhelming possession against an inferior team.

Japan’s 1-0 win ended a proud run for Cameroon of never having lost in the opening match of five previous World Cup finals appearances.

Keisuke Honda’s goal after 39 minutes came completely against the run of play but Cameroon never got back into the struggle and must now consider their South African adventure in deep peril.

Surprise choices in goals and in the midfield by coach Paul Le Guen spoke to his reputation for eccentricity and sometimes strange tactical decisions, but it was the decision to play Stephane Mbia at left back that ultimately cost the side.

His error allowed Honda to sneak in and score in a rare attack for the Asian side, who recorded their first World Cup win outside of the 2002 World Cup tournament they hosted.

Mbia is usually a defensive midfielder, playing at French champions Olympique Marseille, and only last month he told of his distaste at being pressed into service at full back by Cameroon. On Monday he made a basic error of judgement which ultimately cost his side.

Le Guen left out Idriss Carlos Kameni for the error-prone Hamidou Souleymanou and did not play Alexandre Song in midfield, reportedly feeling him too slow for the speedy Japanese.

Captain Samuel Eto’o spent most of the match at right wing rather than centre forward and did not create any chances until it was almost too late.

His strike partner, Eric Choupo-Moting, recently drafted into the Cameroon side, squandered the best chances, particularly after Eto’o had ghosted past four Japanese defenders and squared the ball back, only for the German-born Choupo Moting to hit aimlessly over the top of the goal.

Achille Webo might have claimed a late equaliser but was denied in stoppage time by Japan’s goalkeeper Kawashima. Cameroon next meet Denmark in Pretoria on June 19.

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