BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Cameroon captain Samuel Eto’o will not start against Brazil, further hampering the African team’s chances of upsetting the hosts in their World Cup match on Monday.
Cameroon coach Volker Finke said Sunday that Eto’o has not recovered from a knee injury that also kept him out of a 4-0 defeat against Croatia that ensured the Africans’ early exit from the tournament.
Finke said his players want to leave the World Cup with their “heads high” after a dismal run that also saw them lose 1-0 to Mexico.
Brazil leads Group A with four points. Mexico also has four points, but it trails on goal difference. Croatia, which plays Mexico on Monday, has three.
For the hosts, the permutations range from winning the group to a shock exit, depending on results.
Brazil players are wary of Cameroon in what will be their first competitive meeting since 2003, when the Africans stunned the then world champions 1-0 in the Confederations Cup.
Finke said the hosts have every right to be nervous.
“It is obvious that this will be a difficult match for Brazil because they need the result and they are under pressure,” Finke said. “We have no pressure. We have prepared for the match as if we could qualify.”
Cameroon has been nothing like its 1990 World Cup side, which beat defending champion Argentina in the opening match before going on to reach the quarterfinals.
“Obviously, we are disappointed,” Finke said. “After these two defeats, we want to show good face, preserve reputation and leave on a good note.”
The Africans will be without defensive midfielder Alex Song, who was red-carded against Croatia. Finke said striker Eto’o, the team’s best and most experienced player, has not recovered from a right knee injury and will “definitely” not start.
Finke, however, said the Chelsea player might play “for a few minutes” in what could be his last match at a World Cup.
To make things worse, Cameroon’s football federation could still punish two of the players for a scuffle late in the match against Croatia. Benoit Assou-Ekotto head-butted teammate Benjamin Moukandjo in what Finke described as “disgraceful behavior.”
He refused to say whether either of the two will play Monday.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.