Despite taking the lead against Group E rivals Denmark in Tshwane/Pretoria on Saturday, Cameroon failed to build on their advantage, their profligacy being punished by a Danish comeback that condemned the Africans to an early exit from the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
After being picked off by the Danes, the Indomitable Lions expressed their dejection at exiting the tournament so soon. “I’m very disappointed”, “I can’t understand it” and “I feel very down” were just some of the comments made by the Cameroon coaching and playing staff, with goalscorer Samuel Eto’o describing it as “the biggest disappointment of my career”. Adding to the sense of disbelief in the Cameroon camp was the fact that the team seemed to be well prepared and were entitled to believe they had a fine tournament in front of them.
“We can take satisfaction from having given our all and created a lot of chances, but nothing worked out for us tonight and it’s hugely frustrating,” lamented Lions midfielder Geremi Njitap, speaking exclusively to FIFA after his side’s elimination. “I don’t think we lacked concentration, but if we’d played like that against Japan we would have been under less pressure tonight.”
Going out on a high
Coach Paul Le Guen offered a similar appraisal: “The match showed we were right to have had high hopes. We didn’t take our chances and we couldn’t capitalise on the good periods of play we had. Taking your chances in front of goal, that’s what makes all the difference. We created some great openings but either we hit the woodwork or our finishing wasn’t quite there.”
Eto’o’s early goal momentarily silenced the side’s critics and was just reward for their fine start to the game. The Cameroonians held even more of an edge in the second half but on the occasions when they hit the target they came up against an inspired Thomas Sorensen, with the Stoke City keeper denying Pierre Webo, Achille Emana, Mohamadou Idrissou and Eto’o with some inspired stops.
“With all the chances we had we should have sealed the game in the first half,” continued a despondent Eto’o. “The first match is the one we should be looking back at,” added Geremi. “We just didn’t play in that game and we put ourselves under pressure as a result. We’re out and that’s tough to take.”
Before they depart for home, Cameroon have group leaders the Netherlands to take on in Cape Town on Thursday. “We need to go out with some pride, above all for the people back home, though it won’t be easy,” concluded the Lions skipper, still unable to believe that their South Africa 2010 adventure is over almost as soon as it had begun.