Cameroon vs Denmark – Eto’o vs Bendtner?

Cameroon v Denmark
Group E, 2010 World Cup
Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria
Saturday, 19 June 2010
1930 (BST) / 2030 (Local Time)

Cameroon and Denmark have both lost their opening games to Japan and Netherlands respectively. Although FIFA ranks Cameroon (19) over Japan (45) but on the day the Samurai Blues got one up on the Indomitable Lions. And well, Netherlands is just a better team than Denmark – the Danes were lucky to get out of it with just a 2-0 loss in my opinion.

The Cameroon vs Denmark game is very important to both the teams as a loss will mean the chances of progress in this World Cup disappear. It will be down to luck for them to climb from fourth to second.

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This is Cameroon’s sixth appearance in the World Cup. They failed to qualify in 2006 and they best performance came in 1990 when they were beaten at the hands of England in the quarterfinals in extra time. They managed to beat the reigning champions, Argentina, in the group stages, they also beat Romania but succumbed to the Soviet Union who overpowered them with four goals and headed back home.

Although Argentina went on to play the final but Cameroon left a mark on the world of football by defeating a powerhouse of football and then drawing England 2-2 in the regulation time only to lose to a Gary Lineker penalty in the 105th minute. Also, Cameroon gave away a penalty in the 83rd which Lineker converted.

Roger Milla, 38 years old at the time, had come out of retirement at the request of the Cameroonian president to join the squad at the last moment. He was the hero of Cameroon’s 1990 campaign.

This time around, Cameroon is gifted with another world class striker who has been plying his trade and sharpening his skills at top level clubs in Europe. Samuel Eto’o scored over a hundred goals for Barcelona in the five seasons he was there and he won the first ever Italian treble with Inter Milan.

The Danish (36) are rated better than the Samurais of Japan but Cameroon are still rated much higher than them. Lions’ defender Nicolas N’Koulou said in a press conference:

“I don’t believe that is the right question to ask because it is not important for me to know what Denmark’s strengths are.”

Denmark is also an unexperienced team at the grandest stage of football. Appearing in the World Cup just four times in 14 attempts. Their best performance was their quarterfinal exit in France 1998 at the expense of Brazil’s progress.

Denmark was placed in Group C alongside France, South Africa and Saudi Arabia. Beat the Arabs in their opening fixture 1-0, drew with South Africa 1-1 and failed to match up to a star-studded French side but lost just two goals to one.

Roung of 16 was a relatively easy fixture for the Danes as they scored four goals against Nigeria and giving away just a consolation goal. Consequently, they landed in the quarterfinals only to have their dream of World Cup progress taken away from them by a mighty Brazilian side. Goals from the phenomenal Bebeto and Rivaldo were enough to edge past Denmark 3-2.

Following their 8th position in 1998, 2002 saw them head home in the Round of 16 and they could not make it to Germany 2006.

South Africa 2010 could mean a group stage exit unless their Arsenal ace Nicklas Bendtner, Liverpool defender Daniel Agger and Stoke City shot-stopper Thomas Sorensen can put up with a Cameroonian side who feel the need to perform in this World Cup more than ever as it is being held on the African soil for the first time ever.

As I mentioned before, Cameroon are rated higher than Denmark but we have been told time and time again that it doesn’t matter how bigger and better a team is if they can’t perform on the day.

The two teams are quite nicely balanced on the head-to-head record. They have met twice in 2002 and 1998 and both times in Copenhagen, Denmark. In 1998, Denmark beat Cameroon 2-1 and in 2002, Cameroon beat Denmark 2-1.

1-0 to Cameroon. Simple as that. They might not go through to the Round of 16 but they should take the win today.

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