Le Guen says Eto'o ready to lead Cameroon

Le Guen says Eto'o ready to lead Cameroon

Published Jun. 11, 2010 6:25 a.m. ET

Cameroon coach Paul Le Guen is publicly backing Samuel Eto'o despite the star striker's threats to quit the team ahead of the World Cup.

``He is my captain, a great player, one of the best players in the world and he wants to do well,'' Le Guen said Thursday at Cameroon's first training session since arriving in South Africa.

Eto'o threatened to skip the World Cup after former Cameroon great Roger Milla criticized him for failing to reproduce his club form with the national team.

He was also sent off after collecting two yellow cards in the first half of a warmup against Portugal.


Without its captain, Cameroon lost 3-1 and then lost its final warmup before the World Cup 4-3 to Serbia - with Eto'o suspended.

Le Guen said Eto'o, who has not spoken to reporters since getting to South Africa on Wednesday, ``is fit, he is ready to fight and be a good captain for us during this World Cup.''

Eto'o won the Champions League with Inter Milan this season, a year after scoring in Barcelona's 2-0 final win over Manchester United.

Cameroon opens its World Cup campaign against Japan in Bloemfontein on Monday. It faces Denmark on June 19 and the Netherlands on June 24.

Midfielder Joel Matip said playing in Africa would add extra significance to the tournament for the Indomitable Lions.

``Playing on our continent, it is a special feeling, I think,'' the 18-year-old who plays for Schalke in the Bundesliga said. ``There are many African supporters at the stadium.

``We want to represent the country and show Africa has very good football teams.''

Cameroon has failed to advance beyond the first round in three World Cup appearances since its stunning performance in 1990, when the team beat defending Argentina and was finally knocked out of the quarterfinals in extra time by England.

Milla's four goals and exuberant celebrations after each strike made him one of the stars of the tournament.