Everything that could go wrong did do for the ‘Indomitable Lions’ of Cameroon yesterday night, as they became the first African team to be knocked out of the ongoing 2014 World Cup in Brazil. After Samuel Eto missed the match through injury, seeing Alex Song’s moment of madness, the team’s shambolic defending and aimless attacking and finally, Benoit Assou Ekotto losing his head and squaring up to his teammate must have definitely been too much to bear for every Cameroonian watching the match.
Coming into the match, the Cameroonians knew anything short of victory would mean joining the likes of Spain and Australia in confirming their exit from the tournament and their task against a vibrant Croatian side who were unlucky not to have secured a draw against hosts Brazil, their task was only made more difficult when legendary striker and captain, Samuel Eto didn’t recover in time from a knock.
The team seemed fired up to overcome the mountain before them however, as they started the match brightly, making several dangerous incursions into the Croatian defensive third of the pitch and but for a combination of a lack of composure and ill-luck would have taken the lead against the highly-fancied Croats who started the match slowly. It was therefore something of a cruel twist of fate, when the European team through striker, Ivica Olic, took the lead somewhat against the run of play in the 11th minute of the first half.
From there, things went downhill – and fast too. First, Barcelona midfielder, Alex Song who was supposed to be the experienced head in the absence of Eto ran mad, as struck Croatian striker, Mario Mandzukic in the back in an off the ball incident. The straight red card he received as punishment is surely only just the beginning of his troubles.
The Croats needed no further invitation to plunder the Cameroonians and quickly jettisoned their cautious, counter-attacking play for an all-out attack strategy, with the aim to score as many goals as possible. It paid dividends, as consequently, Mandzukic struck a brace after Ivan Perisic had scored immediately after the start of the second half to give Croatia a 4-0 win. In truth, it could have been even more.
If the Cameroonian display up to that point was nauseating, then what happened next must have surely led to sickness. Defender, Benoit Assou Ekotto squared up to his team mate, Benjamin Moukandjo, right on the pitch while the match was going on and would have come to blows with him were he not pulled away from him. Even after the final whistle, he still had to be restrained by Eto in the tunnel. Who knows what must have gone on behind the cameras?
All in all, it was a painfully shambolic and woeful display from the West/Central African team which no one would like to see repeated in a very long time if at all. The world cup would be better for their exit.
Damilola Orehin is a freelance creative writer with interesting opinions and analysis of sports, entertainment and social issues. He has written on several established print and online platforms and he showcases his deep-rooted passion for a wide variety of sports at tecmosports.blogspot.com.
Follow him on twitter @Kundammyby