Cameroon will not underestimate the Republic of Ireland when the countries clash on Saturday, according to their team manager, despite the absence of Ireland’s best player.
Expectations were high for the Irish after they came through a qualifying group including Portugal and Holland, but with Roy Keane back in England after his bust-up with boss Mick McCarthy, they are now unfancied to progress beyond the group stage.
Meanwhile, Cameroon’s stock has risen this year thanks to a second successive African Cup of Nations win, and many pundits are tipping them as dangerous outsiders for the title.
Despite all this, Andre Nguidgol says Winfried Schaefer and his players will be taking Ireland every bit as seriously as they would if Keane was playing.
“Some people think the Keane saga is a very big advantage for the Cameroon team, but we don’t agree,” he said.
“Ireland will come up with a strategy and will no doubt play even harder now that Keane is not with them.
“A team is a team. It’s 11 players, not one player. We have to be careful and prepare ourselves. Even without Keane, it’s still the World Cup and Ireland are still one of the best sides.”
Nguidgol added that the squad had now got over the hitch in their own preparations which saw them arrive in Japan five days later than they had planned.
“We cannot say that everything is going the way we would have hoped. We arrived very late and we are trying to do our best,” he said. “Fortunately we have no injuries at the moment.”