Cameroon coach Volker Finke has said that the 'unacceptable' behaviour of some of his players was the reason his side conceded four goals against Croatia, sending them out of the FIFA World Cup™ after just two matches.
Wednesday's Group A result in Manaus knocked the team known as the 'Indomitable Lions' out of the competition, with Barcelona midfielder Alexandre Song sent off five minutes before the break for an elbow on Mario Mandzukic while his team trailed 1-0, and Croatia punished Cameroon with three goals after the interval.
To make matters worse, late in the game, a fight broke out between Cameroon team-mates Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Benjamin Moukandjo. "Some players behaved very badly, and that's why we have conceded four goals," Finke said to L'Equipe. "I know that it is difficult to play with ten men, but that is not a reason to lose it to this point.
"The game was balanced until the red card. The Croatians were more clinical in front of goal, but Cameroon also had chances to score. The behaviour of some of the players is really not satisfactory. Even when we were 11-a-side, it was not acceptable."
After such a result, we have to admit that it is a disgrace. We must look to the future.
The chemistry simply was never there for the African side. The players had threatened to boycott the World Cup due to a dispute with their federation over bonus payments. "After such a result, we have to admit that it is a disgrace," the German tactician said. "We must look to the future."
Cameroon, who lost their first game 1-0 to Mexico, end their tournament against hosts Brazil on Monday in Brasilia. Croatia, 3-1 losers against Brazil in the first game of the tournament, welcomed back striker Mario Mandzukic from suspension.
The Bayern Munich player had missed their Group A opener after being sent off in Croatia's final qualifying match, but returned with two goals. Croatia take on Mexico on Monday needing a win to progress.
"We know what awaits us from the Mexican match," coach Niko Kovac said to Croatian TV channel HTV. "This is a final for us. (They) are a very good, even excellent team, very aggressive, full of energy ...they were capable of threatening Brazil (before drawing 0-0)."
Croatia are looking to reach the FIFA World Cup knock-out phase for the first time since 1998 and are on a high after the win over Cameroon. "We have trained hard and done what the coach wanted us to do," Mandzukic said to HTV. "He wanted an early goal and at half-time he told us to finish the game as soon as possible."
Ivan Perisic obliged with a solo goal three minutes after the restart to add to Ivica Olic's 11th-minute opener. Mandzukic could have had a hat-trick but he was off target in a one-on-one with Cameroon goalkeeper Charles Itandje before his two successful strikes.
"It was a long run, I was tired and lost focus," he said. "But never mind, I never play to score but to help my team. My goals come as a reward. We have shown we have power, now we go into battle with Mexico."