Cameroon looking for redemption at World Cup

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DOUALA, Cameroon (AP) - Unified again and yearning for another deep run at the World Cup, Cameroon is looking recapture the good old days.

A disappointing display at the last World Cup - losses to the Netherlands, Japan and Denmark - are behind them. A positive outlook for Brazil is straight ahead.

“In South Africa, we completely veered off target,” Cameroon midfielder Jean II Makoun said. “But I think we have a better team now with better organization and the players are happy and united.”

Cameroon became the first African team to reach the World Cup quarterfinals at the 1990 tournament in Italy. They have qualified for all but one World Cup since, only missing out on the 2006 edition in Germany.

Don’t expect this year’s team to be as good as Roger Milla and Co. from 1990, however.

Last month, the Indomitable Lions were routed by Portugal 5-1 in their first warm-up match for the tournament. The setback betrayed flaws in almost every sector of coach Volker Finke’s 4-3-3 lineup.

“It was upsetting at this stage to see the team behave like that. Once you lose focus and control, the result is shocking,” said Finke, a German. “However, it was an experimental game which we used to test new player combinations, to see what will work best in Brazil.”

Cameroon will try to regroup during a training camp in Austria from May 20-31. The team will play two friendlies against Macedonia and Paraguay before putting the finishing touches to its preparations against Germany on June 1.

In Brazil, Cameroon will play Mexico on June 13, then Croatia on June 18 and Brazil on June 23.

“We must get at least a victory and a draw or two wins to advance,” Finke said. “The match against Brazil will be really tough so we need good results from the two first encounters.”

At least one former player doesn’t think Cameroon has much of a chance in Brazil.

Cameroon can boast of world-class players but they will not go past the first round,” said Francois Omam Biyik, who scored the winner against Argentina in the opening match of the 1990 World Cup. “They lack the kind of cohesion and patriotism that spurred us back then.

“They need a change of mentality and must give the country the kind of 100 percent commitment they give to their clubs. And (Samuel) Eto’o may be a sophisticated striker, he is very far from being a good leader.”

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