World Cup Play-Offs: Tunisia v Cameroon

Are Cameroon in for a Ruud, Krol awakening?

Are Cameroon in for a Ruud, Krol awakening?

By Sam Crocker In a match that sees the victors of group B play the victors of group I, Cape Verde and Cameroon… wait what? What do you mean they fielded an ineligible player? Tunisia has taken their place instead? Oh, alright then – let me start over. In a match that sees the victors of group B play the victors of group I, TUNISIA and Cameroon are due to commence battle this Sunday in Rades, Tunisia, after both of them made a less than convincing attempt to get out of their group.

With group B’s deciding match between Tunisia and Cape Verde the site of international “let’s all laugh at Africa and their administrative incompetence” news, the wide ranging coverage of the match from news agencies all over the world, that probably would have never touched the match had there not been a controversial aspect to it, has worked out rather well for Tunisia despite the 2-0 defeat.

Fernando Varela’s presence on the pitch meant that rather than coverage about little plucky Cape Verde reaching the next round of African World Cup qualification, it was instead tiny, incompetent, can’t-organise-themselves Cape Verde disqualifying themselves from the competition, with their opponents that night taking their place instead.

We don’t know whether Tunisia manager Ruud Krol relied on an administrative error as part of his tactical plan to seal their place in the next round, but you cannot say that his team were worthy winners of group B. A series of draws against relative minnows Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone in the second half of qualifying meant that their impressive start of 3 wins out of 3 only managed to allow them to finish 2nd on points, before a 3-0 win over the Cape Verde was awarded by FIFA.

As for Cameroon, they hardly pulled up trees in getting to this stage either, relying on an administrative error from Togo to get them through, albeit in a less vital game. Indeed, getting the team to perform to their potential has been the issue for Volke Finke’s side, who took over just before the aforementioned Togo game back in June. They were very much in trouble after losing 2-0 to Togo (before it was overturned), and a final game win against their qualification rivals Libya just was enough to take them through to play Tunisia on Sunday.

The main issue for the Indomitable Lions has been the creation of goals. With a plethora of quality defensive midfield options to choose from, the tendency has been the plug the centre of the field in an attempt to limit goals going in their own net, as oppose to ensuring goals go in their oppositions net. Creativity is a massive problem for Cameroon, with no real wingers or attacking midfielders to speak of, and despite a reasonably strong strike force and defence, means they have struggled to cause many problems for the opposition defence. And no, I am not counting Alex Song as an attacking midfielder, no matter what he thinks of himself.

The Tunisians on the other hand have almost the opposite problem. Conceding in every game of qualifying, defence is not the strong point of the North Africans, relying on a more potent forward line to escape defeat in several games. And with two of their better defenders Haggui and Abdennour suspended for the game against Cameroon, as well as missing their top scorer in qualifying, Oussama Darragi, you could say that Cameroon hold the advantage in this match despite their obvious flaws.

Eric Choupo-Moting has been in decent form for Mainz this season, and is likely to take his place up front with Samuel Eto’o, who will be thrust to the fore after making a u-turn on his international retirement last month. A plus-point for Tunisia is that Sami Allagui has been getting on the score sheet for Hertha Berlin this season, so they will be hoping he can fill Darragi’s scoring boots.

Possible starting XIs:

Tunisia – Ben Cherifa, Chammam, Yahia, Ben Youssef, Derbali, Ragued, Ben Hatira, Khazri, Moueheli, Jemaa, Allagui

Cameroon – Itandje, N’Koulou, Chedjou, Bedimo, Bong, Matip, Makoun, Song, Enoh, Choupo-Moting, Eto’o.

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