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By ESPN Staff
Jun 17, 2014

Samuel Eto'o travels with Cameroon

Despite falling in their World Cup opener to Mexico, Cameroon are determined to win at any cost to avoid their sixth consecutive World Cup defeat.

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Samuel Eto'o traveled to the Amazon on Tuesday with Cameroon's squad for their crucial game against Croatia despite irritating team officials by posting on Twitter that he likely won't play because of a knee injury.

The Chelsea striker wore a brace on his right knee as players left their team base in Vitoria, heading for Manaus in Brazil's far north. He wrote on Twitter that he was not expected to play Wednesday at Arena da Amazonia in a match that's likely to be decisive for Cameroon's hopes of making the second round at the World Cup for the first time in 24 years.

He posted a similar message on his official Facebook page, prompting team spokesman Raphael Nkoa to say in a statement that it wasn't good that Cameroon's captain had "taken it upon himself" to announce his fitness status.

Eto'o, who played in Cameroon's opening 1-0 loss to Mexico in Group A, appeared to be walking normally as he boarded the team bus. But he has struggled with the knee problem since the end of the Premier League season and later received regular treatment at a training camp in Austria.

Croatian assistant Robert Kovac explains the players are boycotting press interviews as a sign of protest against a breach of privacy when photographers took photos of the players swimming naked at the team hotel.

Meanwhile, Croatia's coaches are urging their players to focus on facing Cameroon rather than lamenting the publication of photos showing some of them bathing nude at their training complex's swimming pool in Brazil.

Since the paparazzi photos were published by Croatian media over the weekend, players have refused to speak to the media.

"The players are talking about that theme, but we want them to concentrate on the match against Cameroon," assistant coach Robert Kovac said on Tuesday. "If those photos were not published, they would be thinking about Cameroon. Like this, they are distracted by things outside the pitch."

However, Kovac said he understood the players' reasons for boycotting the media.

"That was a private thing," he said. "They had a day off and they relaxed a bit. It was not appropriate by photographers to abuse the situation."

Meanwhile, the stakes will be high in Wednesday's Group A game at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, as both sides lost their opening match. Croatia was beaten 3-1 by Brazil, while Cameroon went down 1-0 to Mexico.

Kovac said the match in the Brazilian rainforest could be won by the team which copes better with the hot and humid conditions.

"It will be tough in Manaus, where conditions are inhumane," Kovac said. "It is important that we win ball possession, be patient and create opportunities."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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