Fifa World Cup 2014

Samuel Eto'o blow for Cameroon as Croatia face naked truth

After losses, a much needed victory for either side will allow them to forget their off-field troubles that have threatened to disrupt preparations

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 June, 2014, 10:05pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 June, 2014, 10:05pm

Cameroon and Croatia clash in Manaus looking to put their troubles behind them and keep alive their hopes of making the knock-out rounds.

Having lost their opening matches, victory would be fundamental in staying alive in a tough group A that includes hosts Brazil and Mexico.

But winning would also allow either side to forget off-field troubles that have threatened to disrupt their preparations.

I am hoping the gods grant me a miracle and that I am able to defend my dear, beautiful country
Samuel Eto'o

In the case of the Africans, that is the near certain absence of talismanic striker Samuel Eto'o owing to a knee injury.

"I am hoping the gods grant me a miracle and that I am able to defend my dear, beautiful country," Eto'o said.

"If this is not the case, I will always play my role as captain and especially as the big brother to push my young teammates to victory."

Eto'o's knee problem stems from the end of his club season with Chelsea. He says he has not been 100 per cent for months and from the start of the 1-0 loss to Mexico on Friday, he was in pain.

"During the first match of the World Cup against Mexico, I tried but after consulting the medical staff we realised that I needed a rest. Even in the ninth minute, I felt pain," said the 33-year-old.

Croatia's problems are somewhat different as they try to digest the bitter pill of their 3-1 loss to Brazil last Thursday.

Two key incidents changed the game as Brazil were awarded a contentious penalty to go 2-1 ahead before the Europeans controversially had a goal disallowed that would have levelled the scores.

But worse was to follow at the weekend as players were upset by some overly revealing coverage of their Brazilian campaign.

A Croatian website published photos of naked players frolicking in a swimming pool at their team base in Praia do Forte.

Veteran striker Ivica Olic, 34, accused the country's media of sabotaging their preparations.

"You can write freely that it's really shameful!," slammed Olic in the Sportske Novosti daily.

"Is it normal? Do people really need to watch us without our underpants, do our families have to blush? Did media representatives come here for football or something else?"

The publication had caused outrage among the players, who decided to boycott the media until Olic opted to speak out.