PRETORIA, June 19 – Cameroon coach Paul Le Guen declared a state of emergency on his team's World Cup campaign on Friday, a day before the Africans tackle Denmark in Group E at the Loftus Versfeld stadium here.Cameroon lost 1-0 to Japan in their opening game while Denmark were beaten 2-0 by the Netherlands, meaning both sides are in desperate need of a victory to keep alive their hopes of progressing to the knock-out stages.
Le Guen was pulling no punches in his assessment of the situation his team have found themselves in since the Japan match.
"We’ve experienced the climate of a group of African players who lost their first World Cup match," he said.
"It wasn’t a bad thing, but their reactions were different. I prefer people to be very mobilised and aware of the state of emergency."
Cameroon’s players are rumoured to have been involved in some in-fighting following that defeat but captain Samuel Eto’o went to great lengths to stress that it wasn’t the case.
"I want to say that there has never been any in-fighting in the group and there never will be," he offered at the end of Friday’s press conference.
"I’m the captain and as long as my team-mates, my coach and my country have faith in me, there never will be any in-fighting."
Whatever the state of mind of the players one thing is for sure, Le Guen will ring the changes.
Without giving details, he said he will replace three players for their next game.
"Quite simply we didn’t play well, we were well below par. I’m going to make some changes, three new players from the start and I’ll change a few little things," he said.
"I’ll do my job as coach and the one who picks the team, I’m aware of my responsibilities. I’m not stubborn. When I see that things aren’t working, I change them.
"Against Japan I tried to put the players in the positions they play for their clubs, with the exception of Stephane Mbia. When that doesn’t work, I change things."
That last comment seemed a clear reference to his previous decision to play Eto’o wide right, where Jose Mourinho used him for Inter Milan last season.
Le Guen has been much criticised for that choice, even by Eto’o who told French TV channel Canal Plus that his best position was through the middle.
But Eto’o insisted that he was not trying to influence his coach and said he will do as he is told.
"Paul Le Guen is paid to make these decisions, we’re here to represent our country and I’ll play wherever he asks me to," said Eto’o.
While Le Guen spoke of his own responsibilities, he also called on his players to live up to their Indomitable Lions nickname.
"I have to make them realise their responsibilities, I have mine, I pick the team, the tactics, but they need to rediscover a certain spirit," he said.
"There’s a lot of talk about the spirit of Lions, I’ve suggested to them that they rediscover that."