To get you ready for the drama that will start unfolding on June 11 in South Africa, The Star and The Full 90 will introduce you to the teams, the key performers, what to look for and what to expect in this year's Cup.Now onto the grandfather of African soccer, the team that has made it the farthest in the tournament and has qualified the most.
CameroonGroup E THE BASICS
The Indomitable Lions
Green, Yellow, Red
•How They Got Here:
Finished first in an African qualifying group with Gabon, Togo and Morocco
•World Cup Pedigree:
5 World Cups ('82, '90, '94, '98, '02), only reached knockout phase once (quarterfinals in '90)THE PLOT
Will Africa's most consistently successful team at this stage get the home-continent boost, or will a Group of Pain (not Death) doom them to an early exit?THE DIRECTOR
Paul Le Guen
The former Lyon and Rangers coach took over midway through a lackluster qualifying campaign and immediately made Samuel Eto'o his captain. It proved to be a great move. Known not to shy away from rash decisions.LEADING MAN
The Inter Milan striker made history this past weekend, becoming the first person in history to win a treble in consecutive seasons (winning the league, domestic cup and Champions League with Barcelona last year and Inter this year). He's also one of the most dangerous strikers playing today, combining speed, creativity and a deft finishing touch into one compact and lethal package.SUPPORTING CAST
(midfielder, Lyon) can score goals (averaging 10 a year for his club) and is in his seventh year playing for his country;Geremi
(midfielder, Ankaragucu - Turkey) is a diminutive (5'9") central midfielder who has pace and creativity;Alexandre Song
(midfielder, Arsenal) is already a stand-out player for Arsenal and will anchor the team in the middle;Rigobert "Big Chief" Song
(defender, Trabzonspor - Turkey) is a stalwart and is also Alexandre's uncle;Carlos Kameni
(goalkeeper, Espanyol) is experienced beyond his age (26), having been Espanyol's starter for 6 seasons and was the youngest player to win a gold medal at the 2000 Olympics.LIKELY BREAKOUT STAR
The 23-year-old attacking midfielder for Ajax will be very familiar with South Africa, as he was developed and came up through Ajax's feeder-system in Cape Town.THE LIKELY VILLAIN
Is one of two players (Zidane being the other) to be sent off in two different World Cups (he was shown a red card in '94 and '98).PRODUCTION NOTES
Le Guen will likely use a 4-3-3 that will diminish the problems his team has with height in the middle and up top and focus on their speed advantage.WHAT THEY'LL WEAR
IT'S SORTA LIKE...
Any Steve Guttenberg film
Much better in 1990 than it is now, but is still capable of producing magic. Case in point: The Gute's stellar performance on "Party Down" this season and Cameroon's solid qualifying campaign.TRAILER
DO WHAT YOU WILL WITH THIS...
Cameroon is last in the world (or close) in the number of people in its air force. (Wait, Cameroon has an air force?)CRITICAL BLURBS
This is Africa's most consistent (not best) team. They'd have a great chance to win if Roger Milla were on the team. Too bad it's not 1990. ... Eto'o has the tools to be the player of the tournament, provided Cameroon can stay in the tournament long enough. ... The game against Denmark will most likely decide second-place in this group. ... Cameroon has the greatest nickname in the entire football world. ... Cameroon likely has one goal in mind: Surviving to the semi-finals. Make it that far, anything is possible. ...Best-case scenario?
Stealing second place from Denmark and beating an aging and slow Italian team in the knock-out stage before falling to Spain the quarters. ...Realistic prediction?
Losing in the second-round to Italy, or maybe not escaping the group stage at all.POSSIBLE HOLLYWOOD MOMENT
Quarterfinals. Cameroon on one side, Spain on the other. The game is close, knotted 1-1 after extra time, and is headed for penalties. One team will win. Either the team that regularly chokes finally steps up or the team that would become the first African team in the semifinals does the job. Pretty juicy, no matter what the result, right?
Group A: South Africa
Group B: South Korea
Group C: Algeria
Group D: Serbia
Group E: Japan
New Zealand, Slovakia, Paraguay, Italy
North Korea, Ivory Coast, Portugal, Brazil
Honduras, Chile, Switzerland, Spain
Sources: World Cup 2010 (by Steven D. Stark and Harrison Stark); ESPN and Soccernet.com; FIFA; CIA Factbook