Cameroon's Bassong never gave up on World Cup

Published Jun. 12, 2010 12:17 p.m. ET

Cameroon defender Sebastien Bassong never gave up hope of playing at the World Cup, even after he was surprisingly overlooked for this year's African Cup of Nations.

Bassong made it into the Indomitable Lions' squad after shining for Tottenham in the English Premier League when regular center backs Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate were injured.

``It was one of my goals of the season,'' Bassong said Saturday. ``I wanted to play a great season with Tottenham and hopefully be involved in the World Cup. So, yeah, I expected that.''

The 23-year-old center back joined Spurs this season from Newcastle as a backup for King and Woodgate but their injuries meant Bassong became a regular starter.

Cameroon coach Paul Le Guen said he called Bassong to reassure him after omitting him from the African Cup in Angola.

``I told him not to give up hope,'' Le Guen said after Cameroon trained at Northlands Primary School in northern Durban.

Bassong didn't.


``I put it behind me,'' he said. ``And since then I have always done absolutely everything I could to be here.''

Now he could line up alongside Spurs teammate Benoit Assou-Ekotto when Cameroon opens against Japan on Monday in Bloemfontein. Alex Song, from Spurs' North London rivals, Arsenal, will likely be in midfield in front of them.

The Indomitable Lions take on Denmark in Pretoria next Saturday before finishing its Group E matches against the Netherlands on June 24 in Cape Town.

Cameroon captain Samuel Eto'o again did not speak to the media after training. The striker has not spoken to reporters covering the Cameroon squad since arriving earlier this week.

Le Guen, however, has taken every opportunity to praise his captain, despite Eto'o's threats to sit out games because of criticism from Cameroon legend Roger Milla about his form for the national team.

Le Guen said Eto'o, who won the Champions League and Italian league and cup double with Inter Milan this season, was ready to dominate against Japan no matter how much pressure the defense puts him under.

``He is a great player,'' Le Guen said. ``He is ready to handle the pressure, no problem.''