Last update: 24-Jul-2014 4:28 am
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Mexico, Cameroon seek early points
Mexico and Cameroon are the perceived makeweights in Brazil's pool and although not one of the marquee fixtures in the tournament, it will be an interesting tactical affair considering a defeat for either at this early stage may well mean curtains with Croatia and the hosts up next.
Not for the first time the build-up for the Indomitable Lions has not gone particularly like clockwork with the players 20 hours late arriving in Brazil having threatened not to travel following a dispute of bonus payments.
Their football team will always be remembered for their exploits at Italia 90 when Roger Milla ran rings around defences on the way to becoming the first African nation to reach the last eight - where they were ousted by England.
But those memories are starting to fade a little. They have managed only one win at a World Cup since and the feeling is that this will be one of the weaker squads they have assembled for the tournament.
Leading scorer Samuel Eto'o remains the talisman in what will be his fourth finals and though he enjoyed a reasonably successful campaign with Chelsea, it does rather highlight how little progress they have made in terms of fast-tracking some fresh talent.
One player potentially of interest is midfielder Stephane Mbia, who is worth a speculative look at 20/1 for a goal at some stage.
Once of Harry Redknapp's parish at QPR, Mbia is highly unlikely to be back in west London after a fantastic season with Sevilla on loan which ended in triumph in the Europa League.
He is not the most prolific in front of goal but he is a dynamic performer who can get into the penalty area and exploit a Mexican midfield and backline that can be pushed around by a more physical outfit.
It is hard to be overly-critical of Mexico coach Miguel Herrera having not lost in six games since taking over. But this will be his first real test against quality opposition, while his reliance on players from their own domestic league could be found out, although Santos Laguna striker and Olympic final hero Oribe Peralta is highly regarded and one to watch with a tremendous recent scoring record for El Tri.
Mexico have never beaten at African team at a World Cup finals tournament, losing one and drawing two of their three meetings against sides from that continent so far.
This is only the second ever meeting between these two countries; Mexico won the first clash 1-0 in a friendly in 1993.
Cameroon have only won one of their last 13 World Cup games (1-0 v Saudi Arabia in 2002), drawing four and losing eight.