MANAUS, BRAZIL – The day fo Cameroon went from bad to worse, and ended with an early elimination from the World Cup.
The 1990 quarterfinalists, the first African team to make it that far at a World Cup, were outplayed and outmanned by Croatia on Wednesday in a 4-0 loss that leaves the Cameroonians with no chance of reaching the second round.
The evening started with the news that Samuel Eto’o, the team’s best and most experienced player, would not start because of a right knee injury.
It got worse 40 minutes into the game when Alex Song inexplicably chased down Mario Mandzukic away from the ball and elbowed him in the back, drawing an immediate red card from referee Pedro Proenca of Portugal. At the time, the score was only 1-0.
And it actually got even worse than that. In injury time, Benoit Assou-Ekotto head-butted teammate Benjamin Moukandjo in front of their own goal, and the two briefly scuffled before the match mercifully ended.
“It’s unimaginable. I saw this happen and I need to find out exactly what happened, why exactly these two players exploded,” Cameroon coach Volker Finke said of the internal squabble. “I really hate to see that. It’s not the image of Cameroon I want to project.”
Netherland 3, Australia 2
With just over 20 minutes to go in a frantic, seesawing match, Australia missed a golden chance to take a 3-2 lead. Sitting on the bench, Louis van Gaal knew his Netherlands team would be able to hold off Australia and secure the win that ultimately put them through to the knockout rounds.
“I said to Patrick Kluivert and Danny Blind, ‘We’re going to win this match,’” he said.