Will the Lions roar on African grass? Cameroon's sixth appearance at the World Cup finals is an African record. But they'll have to rebuild their reputation this time, writes Peter Law.

Author:Law, Peter
Position::CAMEROON
 
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After swallowing the bitter pill of failing to qualify for the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany, the Indomitable Lions return to the World Cup stage with a French manager who revitalised a faltering qualifying campaign. Paul Le Guen, the former Paris Saint-Germain, Lyon and Rangers coach, has stamped his authority on the side and instilled desperately needed discipline and confidence.

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"He's a rigorous and demanding coach, and we have become more consistent under him," declared midfielder/defender Stephane M'bia.

But defeats against Gabon and Egypt at the African Nations Cup in Angola--where they were eliminated in the quarter-finals--exposed serious defensive deficiencies, which forced Le Guen back to the drawing board.

A goalless draw in a March friendly against Italy, the reigning world champions, showed marked improvement, as the coach injected new faces to fuel the competition for World Cup places.

Striker Dorge Kouemaha, with Belgian club side Brugge, has been given a chance to partner Eto'o in attack.

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Whether Le Guen goes for the 4-4-2 formation or the more offensive 4-3-3 option, the coach has the depth of talent to pose problems for Japan, Holland, and Denmark in the group stages.

Competitive and physical, there is plenty of experience around the squad, from the likes of Rigobert Song, Geremi N'jitap, Samuel Eto'o, Jean Makoun and goalkeeper Carlos Kanemi.

And in midfielder Alexandre Song, Stephane M'bia (a French league winner with Marseille), Monaco central defender Nicholas N'Koulou and the Ajax starlet Eyong Enoh, the team now has refreshing young talent.

Costly individual errors have been a weakness of their post-1990 World Cup campaigns but with probably their strongest-ever squad, the Lions have a real chance of crossing new frontiers in South Africa.

Twenty years have passed since the legendary Roger Milla and his colleagues set the world alight in Italy and it is time that another generation pushed the boundaries of achievement even further.

Player to watch: Samuel Eto'o Fils

Released by Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola last summer, the world-class striker was unable to recreate last season's devastating form in his debut season in Serie A with Internazionale. With 12 league goals and two more in the UEFA Champions League, his tally has slipped well below the 30 he scored in league football over a successful 2008/9 season with Barca.

Replacing Rigobert Song...

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