World Cup 2010 Results: Cameroon Fails On a Continental Level

Jeff ShullAnalyst IJune 14, 2010

BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 14:  Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon gestures during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group E match between Japan and Cameroon at the Free State Stadium on June 14, 2010 in Mangaung/Bloemfontein, South Africa.  (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Heading into the first World Cup on African soil, many thought there was at least one African team who was almost a lock to advance and give the continent something to cheer for in the knockout rounds.

After Algeria defeated Egypt in a play-off last winter and Ivory Coast superstar striker Didier Drogba broke his arm in a friendly with Japan, one team remained as a final hope for an African team to reach the semi's, something no other team has done.

Cameroon, led by Inter Milan's brilliant striker Samuel Eto'o, is ranked 19th in the world and is in Group E with Netherlands (Rank 4), Denmark (Rank 36), and Japan (Rank 45). They are FIFA's highest ranked African team in this year's World Cup.

The Dutch are expected to run away with this group and will more than likely win all three matches, so to give Japan the three points was a catastrophic blunder on Cameroon's part.

Japan had never even won a World Cup game away from their homeland.

None of that mattered as Keisuke Honda scored on a cross from Daisuke Matsui in the first half to lead Japan to the biggest upset of the tournament so far. That title could also go to Ghana (Rank 32) upsetting Serbia (Rank 15) in their first game.

The defense smothered Eto'o and keeper Elji Kawashima held off a late barrage of shots, including a rocket from defender Stephane Mbia that hit the crossbar and a spectacular save in the final moments of injury time to preserve the victory.

Many criticized manager Paul Le Guen, formerly of France's Lyon, for leaving Arsenal midfielder Alex Song on the bench, a decision he more than likely regrets considering the Indomitable Lions looked confused in the midfield.

All the vuvuzelas in the world could not have helped them on this day.

Cameroon can still advance, but to say they will need help after losing to the fourth lowest ranked team (South Africa, New Zealand, and North Korea are the three behind Japan) in this year's tournament is an understatement.

Nigeria and Ghana still have good chances to advance after Nigeria played Argentina very closely and Ghana pulled off the first big upset of the tournament beating Serbia 1-0, but it's safe to say the continent's best hope fell monumentally short.