Superstar striker Samuel Eto'o said that Cameroon becoming the first team eliminated from the first FIFA World Cup™ in Africa is the greatest disappointment of his legendary career. Eto'o opened the scoring in the 10th minute but it was not enough to deny Denmark a 2-1 Group E victory on Saturday that sealed the African side's elimination after an opening loss to Japan.
"I think so," said the Inter Milan star, when asked if this was his greatest disappointment. "All my season was focused to be ready for this World Cup. It's the only thing I could think about."
That was a season that included a second consecutive UEFA Champions League crown, this one for Inter after helping Barcelona to the 2009 crown, and was to be topped by an African-record sixth trip to the FIFA World Cup by Cameroon. Instead, the South Africa trip has brought only heartache for the not-so Indomitable Lions, who reached the 1990 quarter-finals in the best run by any African nation at the FIFA World Cup.
"It's hard. It's not normal for us to finish last," Eto'o said. "But there will be other days. They played better than us in the match. It's that simple."
Cameroon captain Eto'o, a three-time African Player of the Year who made his FIFA World Cup debut in 1998 at age 17, still hopes to rally the Lions for a solid showing against the Dutch in their final match at Cape Town on Thursday. "I want to finish with dignity in the last game," Eto'o said. "That is very important."
They played better than us in the match. It's that simple.
Asked who was to blame for Cameroon's horror showing, coach Paul Le Guen took full responsibility. "Me. Only me," he said. "The team was glad to be here. They wanted to finish better. We hoped to play to our potential more than we showed."
Le Guen, who coached Lyon to three French titles, said he had no regrets even with the poor results. "I accept criticism and opinions but I really thought about it and I have no regrets about my team selection," he said.
But Le Guen admits he will have regrets over the FIFA World Cup losses, especially after three line-up changes failed to prove enough to grab Cameroon a victory. "I will have regrets for tonight because we weren't clinical. I will have regret because we lost to Japan without playing well," he said.
"I have regrets from both games but for different reasons. The match we played tonight, we weren't far away. We were very close but we didn't make it. It's a big disappointment. We didn't finish off our chances."
As a result, the Lions are truly finished for this FIFA World Cup title hunt. "I'm very sad for the Cameroon people," Le Guen said. "We can look at the time I took over to now -- we're out but we got to the World Cup. I worked for the good of the team. It wasn't enough."