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Cameroon knocked out of the FIFA World Cup after 2-1 loss to Denmark

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le_guen.jpgCameroon were knocked out of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, after losing 2-1 to Denmark despite having taken an early lead and dominating for most of the match. The result also sees Group F leaders, the Netherlands become the first team to book their place in the Round of 16.

Cameroon had made the news for all the wrong reasons since their opening round loss to Japan. There were reports that senior players in the squad were unhappy with the manager, Paul Le Guen, for fielding a number of youngsters against Japan instead of seasoned players such as Rigobert Song and Geremi, and also overlooking Arsenal's Alexandre Song. Samuel Eto'o was forced to deny the reports during the pre-match press conference, stating that the team is united in their pursuit for a place in the Round of 16.

However, Le Guen seemed to have given in to the players' demands when he named Alexandre Song, Geremi and Achille Emana in the starting eleven for this pivotal match. Also, Samuel Eto'o was given the chance to impress in his more natural role as a centre-forward as the side chose to go with a 4-4-2 formation. Cameroon came into this match with the knowledge that a loss would mean elimination, and a draw would require Japan to drop points in the final round of Group matches against Denmark to bring goal difference into account. Hence, realistically speaking only a win would do.

For Denmark, Nicklas Bendtner managed to shake off a groin injury in time to start, and had Jon Dahl Tomasson for support in this match after having struggled as the lone striker in the defeat to Netherlands. Tomasson too was carrying a thigh strain into the game. Former Chelsea winger Jesper Gronkjaer was the only other change in the Denmark line-up, slotting in at left midfield while Martin Jorgensen shifted into the centre at the expense of Thomas Enevoldsen.

Cameroon started with a good tempo, pegging Denmark back early and were aided in getting a couple of shots at goal by some sloppy ball-playing by Denmark near their own area. The Danes had already been served a few warning signs by the 10th minute, but their failure to heed them proved costly. Midfielder Christian Poulsen received the ball from ‘keeper Thomas Sorensen, and sent a careless blind pass towards right-back Lars Jacobsen that was easily intercepted by Webo on the left wing. Webo found Eto'o in acres of space in the Danish penalty area, and the Inter Milan striker finished clinically past Sorensen to put give his side an early lead.

Cameroon continued to control the game post the opening goal, but slowly Denmark started to find their feet. Dennis Rommedahl was their chief outlet, easily beating the left-side of the Cameroonian defence with his blistering pace. And in the 33rd minute, a perfectly weighted pass from Simon Kjaer from well inside his own half over Assou-Ekotto fell in the path of Rommedahl, who sent in a teasing cross which was met by a sliding Nicklas Bendtner to restore parity on the scoreboard.

Both sides had shown their propensity to make mistakes, and Alex Song nearly made a costly one as he was easily robbed by Rommedahl. The Danish winger played a neat one-two with Bendtner and rushed into the Cameroonian penalty area, and pulled the ball back to Tomasson. Song redeemed himself for his mistake by diving in to block Tomasson's shot, which was bound to put Denmark ahead.

And barely a minute later back up the other end, Emana again penalised some slack Danish defending and rushed through on goal, but instead of shooting himself he passed to Samuel Eto'o. The Cameroonian captain was at the near identical spot from where he scored the first goal of the match, but this time could only find the inside of the left upright as the Danish goal lived a charmed life.

The sides went into the dressing room with the scores level at 1-1, with Cameroon definitely the more disappointed of the two. The changes made to the squad worked brilliantly, as Geremi threated down the right flank and Enama through the middle. Alex Song, meanwhile, did a brilliant job breaking up the Danish game, whereas Samuel Eto'o proved that he's best when playing up-front rather than on the right side of midfield. Every Cameroon supporter would have been wishing this was the squad that had taken to the pitch in the match against Japan, which now looked like three lost points. Denmark, meanwhile, were just hanging on having been guilty of a number of misplaced passes. Their pace down the flanks though was repeatedly causing Cameroon problems, especially when Rommedahl had the ball.

Cameroon started the second half positively, piling on some early pressure. First Thomas Sorensen had to be on his toes to parry a header from M'Bia, and a moment later the Danish defence failed to deal with a Geremi cross. Fortunately for them, Martin Jensen was alert and his sliding tackle prevented Assou-Ekotto from tapping in. Enjoying the majority of the possession, Cameroon committed a number of players forward, and their poor finishing was quickly punished.

At about the hour mark the ball was heaved out of the Danish penalty area after another spell of Cameroonian attack. Bendtner collected the ball and quickly released Rommedahl down the right flank. He easily beat substitute Jean II Makoun when he cut inside, and after earning himself a yard of space, expertly curled in with his left foot. Just as in the first goal, Denmark only needed a few seconds from the start of their attack to the ball finding the back of the net in classic counter attacking style.

Ten minutes later Denmark nearly doubled the lead. Christian Poulsen sent in a long ball over the top of the Cameroonian defence which Jon Dahl Tomasson controlled, but was unable to beat Hamidou, who spread himself to pull off an important save.

Finding his team on the verge of going out, Le Guen brought on a striker, Idrissou, in place of Sebastien Bassong. Emana broke through the middle again, and forced some great reflexes from Thomas Sorensen. Moments later Idrissou found himself unmarked at a corner, but the ball was just too high and he failed to get a decent connection. Cameroon were knocking on the door, and Denmark brought on Jakob Poulsen in place of Tomasson to add more men at the back.

Cameroon were getting desperate by the end, but were never able to force Sorensen into any save of note despite winning a couple of set pieces in dangerous positions. Despite having been overrun most of the game, Denmark took home the three points due to their effectiveness on the quick break. The Africans had a host of chances to win the match, but a poor performance in front of goal and lack of pace at the back made them the first team to be eliminated from the 2010 World Cup.

The result also sees Netherlands becoming the first team to confirm their progress to the Round of 16, and the match between Japan and Denmark is now a virtual knockout. Denmark can't afford a draw in that game, as that would see them lose out to Japan's superior goal difference. Truth be told their performance today was never sparkling. A number of stray passes went unpunished, with Simon Kjaer's yellow card meaning he would miss the final Group game. Also, their attack looks one-dimensional, with Rommedahl being the creator of all chances of note.

Cameroon would be mightily disappointed, not only because they didn't deserve to lose tonight but also because they showed sufficient quality to have beaten Japan in the opening round. Le Guen may regret his selection in hindsight, but there's nothing they can do about it anymore and their final group tie against Netherlands, who would probably rest a few players, is now meaningless in all perspectives other than pride.

The Teams:

Cameroon (4-4-2): Hamidou; Bassong (Idrissou 73'), N'Kolou, Assou-Ekotto, M'Bia; Alex Song, Enoh (Makoun 45'), Geremi, Emana; Webo (Aboubakar 79'), Eto'o

Denmark (4-4-2): Sorensen; Jacobsen, Kjaer, S. Poulsen, Agger; Jorgensen (Jensen 45'), C. Poulsen, Gronkjaer (Kahlenberg 66'), Rommedahl; Tomasson (J. Poulsen 86'), Bendtner

Final Score: Cameroon 1-2 Denmark (Cameroon: Eto'o 10'; Denmark: Bendtner 33', Rommedahl 61')

Check out the Points Table

Also Read:

Netherlands 1-0 Japan - Match Report

File Photograph Copyright: Mustapha Ennaimi

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