World Cup Preview from The Sports Network|
Monday, June 14, 2010
(All times Eastern)
Japan (0-0-0) vs. Cameroon (0-0-0), 10 a.m.
Bloemfontein, South Africa (Sports Network) - Japan is making its fourth
successive appearance at the World Cup, and outside of a run to the second
round in 2002 as co-hosts, it has not enjoyed much success.
The Japanese are a combined 0-4-2 in World Cups played outside of their native
land, in 1998 and 2006, while the team's opponents on Monday in their Group E
opener at Free State Stadium, Cameroon, will be looking to benefit from the
location of this summer's tournament.
The World Cup being played in Africa should have a positive effect on teams
like Cameroon, which became the first African nation to advance to the
quarterfinals of the World Cup in 1990.
And the Indomitable Lions will be looking to return to the knockout stage for
the first time in 20 years after failing to advance beyond the first round in
each of their last three World Cups in 1994, 1998 and 2002.
The team posted just one win in those three tournaments combined, while they
failed to qualify for the competition in 2006.
Striker Samuel Eto'o will lead the team offensively, and although he put
together just an average season by his standards for Inter Milan with 12 goals
in Serie A, he is poised to carry the scoring load for his country.
There are players with European experience on the team in Arsenal's Alexandre
Song and Lyon's Jean Makoun in the midfield, while Tottenham teammates Benoit
Assou-Ekotto and Sebastien Bassong anchor the defense.
Japan might be the weakest team in the group, with the Netherlands and Denmark
making up the rest of Group E, so a win for Cameroon is a must if it wants to
advance to the knockout round.
Veteran Shunsuke Nakamura will lead the way for Japan, but it will have a hard
time picking up its first World Cup win away from home in a balanced group.
06/13 12:47:53 ET