Cameroon captain Samuel Eto'o admitted on Monday that he needs a miracle if he is to shake off a right knee injury in time to play in Wednesday's World Cup Group A match against Croatia. The 33-year-old striker played in Cameroon's 1-0 Group A defeat to Mexico on Friday, but he was not present at training at Vitoria, near Belo Horizonte, on Sunday.

"I am hoping the gods grant me a miracle and that I am able to defend my dear, beautiful country," Eto'o told Cameroon Radio-Television (CRTV). "If this is not the case, I will always play my role as captain and especially as the big brother to push my young teammates to victory.

"For three-and-a-half months, I have not had the time to recover. You could see that even in the build-up to the World Cup I hadn't had a lot of practice until the friendly against Germany."

I am hoping the gods grant me a miracle and that I am able to defend my dear, beautiful country.

Samuel Eto'o, Cameroon striker

He added: "During the first match of the World Cup against Mexico, I tried but after consulting the medical staff we realised that I needed a rest. Even in the ninth minute, I felt pain."

Eto'o suffered a right knee injury at the end of his club season with Chelsea. "He didn't train on Saturday or Sunday," said Cameroon coach Volker Finke. After facing Croatia - beaten 3-1 by Brazil in their Group A opener - Cameroon will face the hosts on 23 June.