2010 FIFA World Cup Group E Preview: Why Cameroon Will Advance

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2010 FIFA World Cup Group E Preview: Why Cameroon Will Advance

Cameroon has a history of participating in intriguing first round groups. In 1982 and 1994, they twice found themselves matched up with a strong semifinalist, and the eventual champions (in '82 they almost beat out Italy for second place in the group, but lost on a goal differential.)

In 1990, they opened the tournament by shocking title-holders and eventual runners-up Argentina before embarking on their historic quarterfinal run.

In '98, they finished last in their tough group.

In '02, Cameroon tied loaded Ireland and beat Saudi Arabia before being eliminated following a memorably contentious clash with Oliver Kahn's Germany.

What does all this mean for the 2010 Indomitable Lions? To put it succinctly: diddly.

Though this year's first round group may offer the poetically inclined among us some interesting parallels to Cameroon's 2002 Group E draw with Germany, Ireland, and Saudi Arabia, 2010 is a new year with a new team, new opponents, and new venues.

It would be more romantic than logical to draw any analogies between 2002 and 2010, and this year's squad must be evaluated based on their own strengths, weaknesses, and current form.

For a more in-depth breakdown of Cameroon's strengths and weaknesses, see my article on the topic here.

Drawn with outside World Cup favorites the Netherlands, the young, but formidable UEFA group winners Denmark, and the always game Japan, Cameroon's versatility will be tested as much as their unsettled back four.

Each opponent presents its own unique set of challenges. It would be reasonable, though by no means safe, to pick the "Oranje" to take nine points from their group, but beyond that, a strong argument can be made for Cameroon, Denmark, or Japan advancing in second place.

In the following slideshow, I will break down the Lions' first round fixtures in order, and I will finish by offering a prediction of how Cameroon will fare not only in the group stage, but in the tournament overall.

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