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Soccer News of Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Source: Vanguard

Do-or-Die Battle for Cameroon, Croatia

Defeated 1-0 by Mexico in their 2014 FIFA World Cup opener in Group A in Natal on Friday, Cameroon are left with no choice but to win when they face Croatia in Manaus on Wednesday.

But to reach their objective, the Indomitable Lions will have to drastically improve their game after displaying a poor performance against 'El Tri'.

Samuel Eto'o and his teammates struggled in all the compartments of the game, never appearing in a position to unsettle their opponents.

Weakened by a recurrent knee injury, the Lions' skipper clearly lacked his usual attacking flair and his participation in their battle for survival against the Croatians is hugely compromised.

However, Cameroon still believe in their chances to bounce back in the second encounter of their Brazilian campaign and to make it to the next round.

"It won't help to tell ourselves that it is over. We have lost a game, but it doesn't mean that we have lost our chances of qualification," forward Benjamin Moukandjo said in a press conference.

With their backs to the wall going into this match, national coach Volker Finke knows that there is only one option for the Cameroonians should they intend to extend their stay in Brazil.

"We must be ready to face the challenge. They have great players plying their trade in Spain and Germany and we must remain very cautious even if we both lost our first game. It doesn't help to talk anymore, we must just win to remain in the competition," the German admitted.

Croatia are indeed under great pressure as well, after falling 3-1 to the host nation in the tournament's opening game. But they will try to build on their good display against Brazil to bounce back when they face the Lions.

"I really am very proud of Croatia despite the defeat because I know that we came up against a great team in every sense of the word. We put in a fantastic performance, from the first minute to the last. Brazil were very strong but we deserved at least a point. I'm proud because we showed that we can survive the group phase," coach Nico Kovac told the media.

The latter will be pleased to welcome back Bayern Munich striker Mario Mandzukic, suspended for their World Cup opener, but is still sweating over the fitness of Real Madrid playmaker Luca Modric.