MANAUS, Brazil (AP) — Cameroon captain Samuel Eto’o will wait until Wednesday morning to decide if he can play against Croatia at the World Cup.
The 33-year-old striker, the most experienced and most well-known player on Cameroon’s national team, said Tuesday he would do everything he can to be ready to play in the Group A match at the Arena da Amazonia.
“I cannot give you a satisfactory answer, even though I might already know whether or not I’m going to be able to play,” Eto’o said Tuesday. “Even if I knew, I would not tell you.”
At the start of the team’s final practice ahead of Wednesday’s match, Eto’o sat on the bench with ice strapped to his right knee.
Eto’o caused a bit of an uproar earlier in the day when he tweeted that he “would probably not be able to play” in the crucial match.
Both teams lost their opening games, but with Mexico holding Brazil to a 0-0 draw on Tuesday, both Cameroon and Croatia now have a good chance to advance.
For Cameroon, however, having Eto’o on the field in a huge step toward having a chance to win.
“We cannot do miracles,” Cameroon coach Volker Finke said. “If he’s not fit, he’s not fit.”
Eto’o played with Chelsea last season and is by far the biggest star on the Cameroonian team. Besides Chelsea, the striker also spent time at Barcelona and Inter Milan, scoring plenty of goals along the way.
But he arrived in Brazil with a knee injury he picked up with Chelsea. And although he played in the opening 1-0 loss to Mexico, he said he felt some pain during that match.
“I’m working with the physio. We don’t have much time,” Eto’o said. “The doctor said a few days ago I would need 10 days of rest. Of course you don’t have 10 days of rest when you have a World Cup with a match every five days.”
Cameroon came to the World Cup amid a controversy over bonus payments, and Eto’o is thought to have been a central figure in the team’s late arrival because of the dispute.
But Eto’o said there are no problems in the squad, and the entire team is focused on advancing to the second round — something the team hasn’t done since becoming the first African nation to reach the World Cup quarterfinals in 1990.
“Everything is wide open,” Eto’o said. “We all need to be open to any eventuality.”
AP Sports Writer Gerald Imray in Rio de Janeiro contributed to this report.
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