Cameroon manager Rigobert Song has enjoyed a quiet build-up to the Qatar World Cup and is hoping it will benefit his squad in their opening Group G game against Switzerland at the Al Janoub Stadium on Thursday.
Song who played in four World Cup finals as a player, said that the country’s football association had learned the lessons of the past and that the current structure provided a great foundation for success at the tournament.
Previous Cameroon World Cup teams have been hindered by internal conflicts and disputes over pay and bonuses.
“We are very calm and we’re pleased that all of the mistakes we’ve made in the past have not been repeated. We haven’t had any disputes about wages, about money, things have changed,” Song told reporters
“The CFA has former striker Samuel Eto’o as president, he’s a hard worker and he’s there every day trying to make sure the players are as well prepared as possible. We’ve seen mistakes made in the past, but this time we’re calm we’re ready and we’re focused,” he added.
The Indomitable Lions haven’t won a group game at the World Cup since defeating Saudi Arabia in 2002, and Song is hoping that his experience including being sent off at two different tournaments will enable him to help his side.
“That experience is helpful when I talk to the young generation, they are professional, they know what they have to do, I’m just trying to support them, to help them do the best they can.” The 46-year-old said.
Song was tight-lipped about his line-up and who would captain the team, but he was joined at the news conference by midfielder Samuel Oum Gouet, who said the squad is looking forward to getting going in the tournament.
“We’re very excited about being here. Any footballer or manager who gets to the World Cup is very excited and we’re very focused,” the 24-year-old said.
With FA president Eto’o saying that his nation could win the tournament, Song said little that might dampen those expectations.
“We know we are at a very good level and the organisation behind the scenes is good as well, so the footballers can focus on their job, I think that’s why we’re more focused today and there’s no doubt in our minds what we are capable of,” he said.
“They are a very strong group, but perhaps I can make them even stronger.”
”Swiss World Cup team is the best ever”
Switzerland manager Murat Yakin said, ”The current national team, with Captain Granit Xhaka, was the best that ever existed and was determined to reach the later stages of the World Cup in Qatar.”
Switzerland, who will play their opener against Cameroon on the 24th of November 24, have progressed from the group stage in three of their last four tournaments, missing out only in 2010.
Yakin who took the reins last year after Switzerland’s run to the Euro 2020 quarter-finals, predicted the country would have its best showing at any World Cup in Qatar, where they will also face Brazil and Serbia in Group G.
Captain Granit Xhaka, the Arsenal midfielder, however, was hesitant to describe the squad in the same way, saying it would not be fair to the 2018 Swiss team that was eliminated by Sweden in the round of 16.
But he admitted the Swiss team now was younger than it was four years ago and maybe “hungrier” to go far in the tournament.
Between them, the Swiss and Cameroonian teams have played at 19 World Cup finals, with Switzerland making their debut in the 1934 tournament and Cameroon in 1982.