PRETORIA, June 20- Cameroon became the first team to be knocked out of the World Cup after a 2-1 defeat to Denmark on Saturday, a result which also ensured Group E leaders Holland became the first country to reach the last 16.
The defeat, their second in a row, completed a miserable tournament for under-performing Cameroon, who lost to Japan in their opening game.
Saturday’s result leaves Japan, who earlier went down to a 1-0 defeat against the Netherlands, to take on Denmark in Rustenberg next Thursday for the runners-up spot in the pool and a place in the knockout round.
"We missed the required coolness in front of goal," said Cameroon coach Paul Le Guen.
"We didn’t finish very well, but I feel like we gave everything we could tonight."
Denmark coach Morten Olsen suggested his team had been lucky to escape with the win.
"We made far too many elementary mistakes and I can’t allow that from my players," he said.
"We must correct that. I wasn’t happy but they fought heroically. Some didn’t play well but they fought."
Man-of-the-match Daniel Agger was even more scathing.
"That was one of the worst performances we’ve had in a long time," he added.
Cameroon scored first when Samuel Eto’o coolly shot into the corner of the net after 10 minutes, but Arsenal’s Nicklas Bendtner struck back for the Danes, converting a cross in the 33rd minute.
Dennis Rommedahl gave Denmark the lead, curling a neat finish around Cameroon ‘keeper Hamidou Souleymanou on 61 minutes.
On seven minutes, Rommedahl had a great chance to open the scoring as Christian Poulsen played him in behind the defence, despite a hint of offside, but the Ajax star blazed his shot high and wide.
Three minutes later, though, Poulsen was at fault when he played a blind pass that Pierre Webo intercepted before crossing for Eto’o, restored to a central striking role, to blast home.
Former Chelsea winger Jesper Gronkjaer had two chances in quick succession but his curler from distance was deflected behind and then he fluffed a far-post header from the resulting corner.
Denmark were starting to exert control and Cameroon goalkeeper Hamidou Souleymanou had to be alert to dash out and block at the feet of Tomasson.
And they got the equaliser they deserved on 33 minutes as Rommedahl got behind Benoit Assou-Ekotto to latch onto Daniel Agger’s long crossfield ball before crossing for Bendtner to slide home.
In a thrilling end to the half Alexandre Song made a goal-saving block to deny Tomasson before Eto’o clattered the post and Achilles Emana burst through only to chip into goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen’s hands.
Sorensen had to come to Denmark’s rescue straight after the restart when he tipped over a Stephane Mbia header.
On the hour mark Webo had a chance on the turn but his shot bundled into Sorensen’s arms.
Denmark then went straight up the other end and Rommedahl cut inside substitute Jean II Makoun far too easily before curling a left-footer beyond Souleymanou.
Makoun could have made amends but skied his shot from 12 yards when teed up by Eto’o but Souleymanou then kept the Lions in the game with a crucial point blank save from Tomasson.
Sorensen made a brilliant one-handed save to deny Emana an equaliser, Vincent Aboubacar’s goalbound shot deflected off Poulsen’s head and over and Mohamadou Idrissou’s header just cleared the crossbar in a frantic finale.