Cameroon FA president Iya Mohamed believes the row over squad bonuses in Paris on the eve of the World Cup was to blame for the country’s first-round elimination.
« We had knives to our throats. It was sorrowful and the result is there for all to see, » he said.
Cameroon’s preparations were marred by a players’ strike over pay which caused them to miss their planned flight to the Far East.
The row delayed them by 48 hours and a further two days were lost when the plane chartered to take them to Japan was forced to make an emergency landing in Bangkok after failing to gain permission to fly over Cambodian, Vietnamese and Phillipino airspace.
Mohamed claims the Cameroon federation did all they could to resolve the dispute.
« It was totally incomprehensible, » he fumed. « I refuse to believe that the matter concerned only money. Ahead of the World Cup, it was derogatory.
« The players insisted on having the money in cash on the spot. We found ourselves in a tight corner because they raised the problem on a Friday and since the next Monday was a public holiday in France, we could not raise the cash during that period.
« Each player was offered certified cheques of 20 million CFA Francs (£20,000). The Cameroon embassy in Paris also issued cheques of 10 million CFA Francs (£10,000) to each player. But the players refused to accept them. They wanted liquid cash.
« I think today the players are the first to regret their act. Those four wasted days, the difficult travelling conditions and the jet-lag affected their form. I will never understand why the players behaved that way. It was regrettable.
« I say again, it was a big waste. One is also forced to think that it was a lot reserved for us by God. Otherwise, why, in spite of the fact that we asked them to travel to Japan and go on strike there if their demands were not met, did the players not listen to us?
« Only the players can explain. Their behaviour did not help us. »
African champions Cameroon were bundled out of the World Cup at the first hurdle on Wednesday after losing 2-0 to Germany.
Franz Beckenbauer said afterwards that he was « stunned » by how Cameroon had played, adding: « I have never seen such a lazy group of players compete in a World Cup. »
Mohamed, meanwhile, added poor preparation and over-confidence to his excuses for the side’s poor showing.
« It’s a big disappointment, especially after we took all necessary measures to guarantee an excellent performance in the World Cup, » he said.
« In spite of the quality of our players, good management and excellent preparation, we could not reach the second round. I’m downcast. However, that’s sport. Unfortunately you can’t succeed all the time, no matter what your efforts are like.
« The quality warm-up games we had against great football nations like Argentina and England could not predict this kind of performance by the Lions in the World Cup.
« I can’t tell you what really went wrong. But as I look back at our preparation, I think the problem in Paris, when the players threatened a strike, certainly had a negative effect on their form. »
Cameroon started the competition brightly, going 1-0 up against the Republic of Ireland before falling away badly in the second half and having to settle for a draw.
Mohamed admitted that, following Roy Keane’s ejection from the Ireland camp, Cameroon were guilty of over-confidence.
« Everybody underestimated the quality of Ireland and I think we also over-estimated our strength, the players, as well as coaches and managers. We fell foul of our lack of humility, » he said.
On Tuesday, Cameroon midfielder Lauren laid the blame for the side’s poor showing at the feet of the the Cameroon FA. « I would change nothing within the team. What we have to do is change those around the team, » he told onefootball.com.
« They always blame us when there are defeats. But we won two Nations Cups and a gold medal in the Olympics. We have to prepare well for big competitions.
« You can’t play the World Cup with too many problems hanging round your neck. We were late and there were other problems. »