YAOUNDE (Reuters) – Cameroon should still qualify from their World Cup group despite doubts over the fitness of striker Patrick Mboma, coach Winfried Schafer said.
« If we play concentrated, total football and feel positive, we should have no problem winning the first matches and proceeding to the next round, » Schafer told reporters in the Cameroon capital Yaounde.
Team doctor Olivier Assamba said Mboma had suffered several injuries including a torn tendon since he led the Indomitable Lions’ successful African Nations Cup campaign in Mali in February.
« For now we cannot say with any certainty whether he will be in the final squad or not, » Assamba said.
Mboma, currently on loan from Italy’s Parma to English side Sunderland, missed Cameroon’s warm-up matches against Argentina in March and Austria in April due to injury.
« He feels pain around the heels each time he wants to take a shot or when he turns direction abruptly while running, » Assamba said. « We will continue to watch him and see how he improves over time. »
Schafer has shortlisted 29 players for the World Cup and is due to name the final squad after a May 17 warm-up match away to Denmark.
« Mboma is very important for the team. We hope he recovers quickly and is part of the 23 that will be heading for Japan and Korea, » the German coach said.
« Cameroon is a wonderful team. Our objective is to go as far as possible. But we must win the first match (against Ireland) just as the 1990 squad did against Argentina in Italy. »
Cameroon reached the quarter-finals of that tournament — the furthest of any African team — finally going out to England in extra time.
Captain Rigobert Song said all his other players were fit and ready for the challenge.
« Everybody is in good shape. We are fully mobilised for the World Cup, and we hope for something extraordinary. The team is solid, each time we come together we play like a family. Everybody wants to give the best of himself, » Song said.
« In the world of soccer, everything is possible. So we are ready to go as far as possible and why not win the cup? »
Most of the shortlisted players have returned from European clubs for an exhibition match on Friday. They will head to the Netherlands for a final training camp before the World Cup finals.
The Indomitable Lions will make history by becoming the first African side to make a fifth World Cup tournament, meeting Germany, Ireland and Saudi Arabia in group E in the first round.