One shouldnt look at victorys teeth. The point is, you should enjoy your win, not overanalyse it. And that is, of course, a completely wrong attitude and one that leads to a losers mentality, because there is just as much to learn from your wins as there is from your defeats.
If you look at the drubbing of Cameroon at the World Cup, you would find the Indomitable Lions in very poor dental health to further the analogy. They were clearly falling apart before everyones eyes. They committed the stupidest, most obvious foul of the tournament that led to Alex Song being sent off; their defensive transition was outrageously bad; and they scuffled amongst themselves on the pitch.
Cameroon has long been aware of the problem, but they fail to learn from their past failures. Instead, they react to them, violently, like a driver who abruptly leaves his lane to avoid an obstacle. Every tournament seems to be played out as a belated riposte to the ills that have gone just before.
Finke came in after AFCON 2013, determined to stop Cameroon from getting embarrassed as they were in South Africa. His answer was a radically defensive setup, with a bank of four in front of goal, three defensive midfield stalwarts and two forwards who were told to track ball during off-the-ball moments. This perfectly decent, if limited, strategy brought results (of sorts): Cameroon went home technically defeated and the negative approach played badly at home with fans, pundits and the media.
The preparation was detailed and intense but sensible and relaxed. And still the fundamental shortcomings of the nations footballers have been exposed.
In the final analysis, most fans said before the tournament that the minimum they wanted to see was evidence of improvement and hope for the future. The disappointment over the display against Croatia stemmed from their absence. The plain fact is Cameroon are not good enough and do not have enough performers of serious international quality and stature to make an impression on these big occasions.
Not a single Cameroon supporter I met, nor any comment I saw on the web suggested Cameroon would progress very far in this tournament; most thought the squad would do well to emerge from a tough group. Considering expectations, its rather odd to see the outpouring of frustration and anger from the Cameroonian public. The consequence is that Cameroonian football will begin yet another period of soul-searching as it looks for the answers to what went wrong in a World Cup campaign that lasted for just six days.
The national team has been failing for decades and attempts to turn on current players, the manager or tactics are utterly pointless. Those doing the shouting havent been any more successful than those soon coming home. Cameroon football has long been in a mess; the grass roots of the game are where the problems lie and even if this were to be addressed tomorrow, it would still be another two or three World Cups before Cameroon reaped the benefits.
There is a widespread and entirely incorrect perception that the sole point of football is to score more goals than the opposition. In fact it is just as important to concede fewer goals. Football is a game of two halves, attacking and defending, yet much of the time we only concern ourselves with the former. In a sense, thats fair enough. Attacking: thats the good stuff, the bit that stirs the soul of fans and the ego of players. No kid ever wanted to play centre-back in the playground; no crowd ever chants Defend defend defend! When Ruud Gullit coined the phrase sexy football in reference to Portugal at Euro 96, he wasnt referring to Fernando Couto winning high balls.
In some countries, particularly Brazil, it is a philosophical issue. That is all fine and correct, yet when it comes to winning which rightly or wrongly has become by far the most important thing in modern football attacking and defending are of equal importance. Yet still we allow our judgement to be skewed.
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Another World Cup, Another Flop