What do you think of the draw?
It will be a very interesting, exciting fight with three equal teams. Everybody knows the qualities of the German team. Ireland are dangerous — they put Holland out and didn’t lose a game in their qualifying group. Saudi Arabia are the only outsiders.
Who are your key players?
Goalkeeper Boukar Alioum, who had a very good Nations Cup; the defensive line with our captain Rigobert Song; Marc-Vivien Foe, our central midfielder; Lauren, who has improved a lot; and Patrick Mboma, who will make progress with his games for Sunderland.
Who will be the surprises?
I hope it will be Cameroon. We are capable. Pele said an African country will win the World Cup. Perhaps we could be the first. But Japan could also be a big surprise. They play at home and the crowd will be enthusiastic. Players? Who knows? Perhaps my player, Foe. I hope so, because he was injured in 1998 in France in the last training session before the first match. Foe is similar to Patrick Vieira.
Will the conditions affect you?
Since the Nations Cup we are used to living as a group. There is a lot of discipline in the team, a very good mentality. We will be in Japan in due time and prepare in Oita.
Who will win the World Cup?
Argentina, France or Portugal. Perhaps Italy, if everything goes well for them.
How do you get on with the Cameroon federation?
Fine. After the Nations Cup, the president, Mohammed Iya, team manager Andre Nguidjol and myself visited European clubs to thank them, because our players returned late to their teams.
They had to stay for some days in Yaounde to celebrate the title.
In what language do you speak to the players?
English, mostly. If there is a problem, my assistant, Joseph-Marius Omug, translates my German into French.
Are you happy with Cameroon’s status as Africa’s leading nation?
At the Nations Cup there was a big pressure in being favourites and title-holders. Everyone expected we would win the title again. This squad proved they can live with the pressure. We
have progressed a lot in FIFA’s rankings.
How will you feel when Cameroon play Germany?
I will enjoy it. As a coach a World Cup tournament gives you a special chance to prove something. In Germany I was without a job for a number of months. Now I go to Japan — it’slike a miracle.
Will you stay with Cameroon after the World Cup?
I’ve a contract until the end of the tournament. Afterwards, the federation can extend my contract. I would like to stay because it’s brought me a lot of joy. I would like to help Cameroon’s talented young players. And I will fight against soccer slavery, when kids are enticed to leave their country with promises of money in Europe.