Cameroon now offer more than just the physical power that defined their play at previous World Cups and it is unfair to continue to describe them as the “Germans of Africa”, coach Volker Finke said on Thursday.
The Africans take on Mexico in their opening match on Friday and Finke bristled when asked to explain how he would be able to make up for the deficit in skill levels compared to the Mexicans and their other Group A opponents, Brazil and Croatia.
“Sometimes people tell me Cameroon are like the Germans of Africa because we’re big and strong and we have always heard about the physicality of Germany,” he told a news conference at the Dunas arena.
“People say ‘they don’t play tactically, they’re rough and they win, they’re good in combat’. I don’t believe that at all.
“The style has changed since 2006, the training in the country has changed. It’s not what it used to be, they are not just physical players.
“I don’t see any remnants of that physical style that used to describe our team. So, Cameroon now has a good team, a strong team, not just physically but technically too.”
Finke was reluctant to talk about Mexico at all but finally said he thought making the Cameroonians underdogs for the match was probably a mistake.
“Cameroon has something to disturb other teams and earn their respect. This is why Mexico and Cameroon are probably on the same level right now,” he said.
Team officials had earlier told journalists not to ask questions about the player strike over bonuses that saw the Cameroon squad arrive late in Brazil and has caused a storm back home, reports Reuters.
Finke said the dispute was all part of “the way things are done in Africa” and preferred to talk about team issues, hailing the return to full fitness of striker Samuel Eto’o and midfielder Stephane Mbia after injury niggles.
“It’s very important for the team, Samuel Eto’o and Stephane Mbia are like dynamos for the team, like engines for us,” he said.
“We definitely count on them and they can make a difference in a game.”
Defender Nicolas N’Koulou said the team were determined to make up for their poor display in South Africa four years ago, when they lost all three matches, and dismissed concerns their late arrival might be disruptive.
“We arrived one day late, it’s not the end of the world,” he said.
“We know very well that we have prepared properly, we have worked properly, we live together well, we are happy being with each other and we hope to have the best tournament possible.”