Cameroon open against a Mexican side who struggled to even qualify for the competition. They only managed fourth spot in the CONCACAF qualification programme and only guaranteed their spot in Brazil following the ignominy of a double-headed intercontinental play-off with New Zealand.
New boss Miguel Herrera can boast of some excellent individual talents, but he needs to build morale and develop a more convincing approach over the coming months.
Croatia also have some excellent players and talent throughout the side, not to mention experience and some fairly recent World Cup pedigree. Their recent form has, however, been underwhelming. They also required a play-off to make it to the high table but were hardly impressive in defeat of Iceland.
Finally, Brazil, hosts and the tournament’s most successful side—they need little introduction, but rest assured that Volker Finke will spend extensive time researching the Selecao and attempting to find weaknesses in their back line.
All three of Cameroon’s opponents have fine World Cup pedigrees, and so the Indomitable Lions’ chances of progression look, at first glance, fairly slim.
However, neither Croatia nor Mexico are invincible and the Central Africans are more than capable of remaining resolute and stealing a win against either side.
Playing Brazil in Brasilia in the group’s final fixture will doubtless be a massive challenge for Finke’s men, but it is not impossible that they could upset the odds. Should Brazil already have qualified, then it is not impossible that they might rest a few players and slip up. They did just that in the group stage in 1998.
Cameroon actually have a fine track record against South American sides at the high table. They beat Argentina, memorably, in 1990, Colombia, drew with Peru and Chile and have lost only once, to Brazil, in 1994.