Holland put Le Guen's limp Lions out of their misery
Cameroon 1 Holland 2
Friday 25 June 2010
They came as the Indomitable Lions, the highest ranked team in Africa. They left like Bagpuss and frankly Elsa, Simba and even the cowardly one from The Wizard of Oz should consult their lawyers.
Cameroon were the popular choice as the African nation that might make an impact in the first African World Cup. They excelled only when it came to infighting, usually between their manager, Paul Le Guen, and his captain and star, Samuel Eto'o and Arsenal's Alex Song. The latter did not play last night, although he was on the team sheet. Le Guen said he had pulled a calf muscle in the warm-up, although there were reports of a final row with a manager who is almost certain to leave his post, with its vast (by African standards) salary of £600,000, probably for Australia.
There was a second-half recovery of sorts but Robin van Persie, named man of the match for a beautifully-constructed goal, deliciously set up by Rafael van der Vaart, said it was "a disgrace" that a team as talented as Cameroon should be leaving without a point. "I was chatting to Alex Song and he can't believe it either," he added.
There was an improvement in their second-half performance, although the Holland manager, Bert van Marwijk, thought this was more to do with Dutch sloppiness. Van der Vaart handle Geremi's free-kick and Eto'o converted the penalty.
It says something that the most significant moment was a substitution. After 72 minutes of the final group game, Arjen Robben entered the World Cup. He announced himself within 11 minutes; receiving a long ball from Wesley Sneijder, testing his injured hamstring by turning Rigobert Song and then slamming a shot from 25 yards against the post. Klaas Jan Huntelaar buried the rebound.
He celebrated but, morally, the goal was Robben's, although Bayern Munich's playmaker will probably still start the knockout phase on the bench. Nevertheless, the flair for which the Dutch are famed is starting to show through at the right time. Now, they move up the coast to Durban to face the heroes of the hour, Slovakia.
Cameroon (4-4-2): Souleymanou; Geremi, Mbia, Nkoulou (R Song, 73), Assou-Ekotto; Makoun, Chedjou, Nguemo, Bong (Aboubakar, 56); Choupo Moting (Idrissou, 72), Eto'o.
Netherlands (4-2-3-1): Steklenburg; Boulahrouz, Heitinga, Mathijsen, Van Bronckhorst; Van Bommel, De Jong; Kuyt (Elia, 67), Sneijder, Van der Vaart (Robben, 73); Van Persie (Huntelaar, 58).
Referee P Pozo (Chile).
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