Cameroon coach Paul Le Guen has lauded Samuel Eto'o as a true champion ahead of the African team's opening FIFA World Cup™ match against Japan.
Le Guen has become tired of questions regarding his captain's mindset in the build-up to the tournament. Eto'o recently threatened to quit the team following critical remarks by former player Roger Milla. The Inter Milan striker, who helped his club win the UEFA Champions League, changed his mind and will lead the team out at the Free State Stadium.
Following a training session tonight, Le Guen said of Eto'o: "We have to concentrate on the special things, not the minor things. He knows what works for him as well as the Cameroon team. He is a champion and knows how to concentrate on the things that matter."
Milla assumed legendary status in 1990 when Cameroon shocked the football world by reaching the quarter-finals. Twenty years on, Le Guen believes they can reach these dizzy heights again even though they are in a tough group, with Holland and Denmark to come.
He said: "I think it is normal to consider Holland as the favourites but we should still be able to claim one of the two places on offer. There is huge expectation in Cameroon but I feel we are ready to showcase our talents. There is a good atmosphere in the camp. The players are at ease even though they feel a sense of responsibility."
Eto'o believes Cameroon have the players to trouble the world's best. "People now believe in us once again. It is a great achievement for all of us to play in a World Cup, especially one in South Africa," he told FIFA WORLD. "We are dangerous because we are experienced and have learned to play as a team."
Le Guen, who returned home to France with Paris Saint-Germain after a difficult six-month spell with Rangers, has spoken of his pride at leading Cameroon in the tournament. The 46-year-old took over last year – his first job in international football – and caused a stir by making Eto'o captain instead of the veteran Rigobert Song. He said: "Even though this is not my country, I am aware of my responsibilities and what is expected of me."