Mexico v Cameroon: Brazil's victory over Croatia puts fixture into sharp focus as Mexico and Cameroon prepare to battle over second place

Brazil are expected to top the group with Croatia's early defeat leaving the door open for either Mexico or Cameroon to take a giant step towards progression

Fortaleza

They were clearing up the debris from the parties that celebrated Brazil’s opening victory into the early hours but the 3-1 win in Sao Paulo put the other fixture in Group A into very sharp focus.

LIVE: The latest news on Day 2, including Cameroon v Mexico, Spain v Netherlands and Chile v Australia

Mexico and Cameroon know they are fighting for second place and the disarray that accompanied the two teams to Brazil gives neither side much cause for confidence. The losers in Natal today can expect to be making their preparations for an early return journey, something Mexico, who have got through their group in the last five World Cups, are not used to.

Mexico v Cameroon match preview

Cameroon nearly did not arrive at all, delaying their flight to South America following disputes over bonus payments but, given the fact they have won only one game in four World Cups since Gary Lineker’s penalties denied them a place in the semi-finals of Italia 90, you wonder just how many of those bonuses will be paid out to Volker Finke’s side.

Read more: Neymar gives hosts off to winning start
Referee plays his part in controversial opening match
Brazil 3 Croatia 1 player ratings

Too much, as ever, appears to rest on the shoulders of Samuel Eto’o, who may have won three European Cups with Barcelona and Inter Milan, but who was unable to deliver in South Africa four years ago. Nevertheless, a 2-2 draw with Germany in Berlin as they prepared for Brazil showed what Cameroon might be capable of.

 

Mexico are in not much better shape, having got through four managers in the space of six weeks in 2013, which saw them almost fail to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 24 years. 

Their campaign was rescued by Miguel Herrera’s decision to employ only home-grown players for the play-off with New Zealand which only added to Javier Hernandez’s forgettable season at Manchester United. 

Hernandez is likely to start on the bench at the Arena das Dunas this evening with the former Tottenham forward, Giovanni dos Santos, given the task of spearheading the Mexican attack in a game they have to win.

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When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
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