Cameroon's World Cup predictions
After four years of waiting, the time has come. Another World Cup is here, and our bloggers across all 32 competing countries have each predicted the fate that awaits their team. The country's Outlook gives a general view of its situation ahead of the tournament, while Pitfalls takes a look at any potential problems. Each blogger will also predict the top scorer and breakout star and suggest how far that nation can go.
When coach Volker Finke summoned his players to the pre-tournament camp in Austria, he was fully aware of the limitations of his team: no team identity, no strategy and a lack of imagination in the attacking third.
Fast-forward three weeks, and Cameroon are set to travel to Brazil with players coming to the fore (in Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Benjamin Moukandjo and Joel Matip), a clear strategy and improved chemistry.
Four warm-up friendlies were considered an overload, especially after the direness of the first two, but it has allowed Finke to streamline his squad, gather momentum and harness his team to become a well-oiled machine -- to some extent.
All 32 team previews and predictions
Brazil | Cameroon | Croatia | Mexico
Australia | Netherlands | Chile | Spain
Colombia | Greece | Ivory Coast | Japan
Costa Rica | England | Italy | Uruguay
Ecuador | France | Honduras | Switzerland
Argentina | Bosnia | Iran | Nigeria
Germany | Ghana | Portugal | USA
Algeria | Belgium | Russia | South Korea
Organisationally, the loggerheads between players and the Cameroon football federation over bonus payments for qualification is an issue that has been lurking in the background the past few weeks. It reached an impasse on Sunday morning when the team refused to board their flight to Brazil in protest. But it was eventually resolved, and Cameroon boarded a flight later that evening.
Off-field distractions have been part of Cameroon's past four World Cup campaigns, and it's tiresome that lessons from the past have not been learned. With the fourth-most grueling travel schedule of the World Cup, Cameroon does not have time to waste.
On the pitch, tactical variation might be a problem. The successful unveiling of the compact, counter-attacking 4-5-1 formation used for the first time against Germany was encouraging. They have tested other systems unsuccessfully and will find it difficult to take the game to the opposition.
The all-time goal scorer, with 56 goals in 117 games for his country, Samuel Eto'o is the logical choice if he spearheads the attack. In the run to the 2010 World Cup, the outspoken Roger Milla said Eto'o "still hasn't brought anything to our national team."
While Milla's comments were overboard -- Eto'o has brought two African Nations Cup trophies, as well as the 2000 Olympics and much more -- the argument (a very minor one) against Eto'o's greatness is that unlike Milla, he has yet to stamp his authority in the World Cup.
Eto'o had threatened to retire from international football when he heard Milla's assessment. At this World Cup, he will have added motivation to heighten his legacy.
Joel Matip might surprise people if he starts, but based on his red-hot form, it's difficult not to go for Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.
As a child, Choupo-Moting had a poster of Eto'o adorned on his bedroom wall. As a national teammate of Eto'o's now, he is easing the burden on the veteran's creaking shoulders. Tall, quick and direct, with superb dribbling skills and three goals in three warm-up friendlies, the Hamburg-born winger has shown he is primed for battle.
Indeed, his contract with Mainz is out this summer, so this tournament will act partly as a showroom for the top clubs of Europe to take note. The winger certainly has the capability to produce the goods in a high-pressure environment, but it remains to be seen if he will.
PREDICTION: Last 16
The last 16 is both the target and the ceiling. For a long time, it looked like Cameroon would not be able to progress past the group stages, but if -- a massive IF -- they deliver performances similar to what they delivered against Germany in the 2-2 friendly draw, they can do it.
Brazil will win the group, but there is very little separating Cameroon, Croatia and Mexico in the race for the runner-up spot. That said, the Indomitable Lions, given that they're not tactically dynamic enough, will most likely exit in the group stage.