Nickname: Les Lions Indomitables (Indomitable Lions)
Not only do they have sport's coolest nickname, Cameroon is also now home to Africa's most successful national team, boasting a legacy of continental success that is the envy of Africa.
World Cup schedule
June 19: vs. Denmark (Pretoria)
June 24: vs. Holland (Cape Town)
Samuel Eto'o, Forward
Alexandre Song, Midfielder
Best WC result: Quarterfinals in 1990
FIFA World Rank: 19
A republic, Cameroon is nestled in the central-west of the continent, with Nigeria to its west and the DRC, Equitorial Guinea and Gabon to the South. Chad and Central Africa Republic are its other two neighbors. It sits on the Atlantic at the Bight of Bonny, and is a former colony of both England and France (it was divided post-WWI). As in Algeria, a guerilla war was waged against France in the northern part of the country for two decades before independence and reunification.
A relatively stable African nation -- despite what is seen as a corrupt and autocratic government -- Cameroon is split linguistically and culturally between its French-speaking and English-speaking populace.
Despite some well-established industries (timber, agriculture, oil), many people in the country still live on subsistence wages. That said, it is still one of the wealthier nations per capita in the sub-Saharan region.
Soccer is the national sport, and many of the top players have been exported to major teams in France, Spain, Germany and England. Cameroon is also known for being hit by footballing tragedy. In particular, the death of Marc-Vivien Foe cast a pall over the team and international football. Foe collapsed during the 2003 Confederations Cup during a game against Colombia, and could not be revived. An autopsy later suggested a previously unknown heart defect had led to his death.
PAST WORLD CUP SUCCESS: Six-time qualifiers, they became the first African team to reach the quarterfinals in 1990, when they pushed England to the limit before losing. Unfortunately, they've gone out in the group stage every other time.
REGIONAL SUCCESS: Four-time winners of the African Cup of Nations, they also won gold at the 2000 Olympic Games.
LEAGUE OVERVIEW: An 11-team league, of which only Cotonsport is at all notable. Cotonsport is a regular presence on the continental stage, but their best finish was runners-up in the CAF Confederations Cup in 2008.
MANAGER: Paul Le Guen. He's had a shaky record. At Lyon, he led the club to glory. At Glasgow Rangers, he didn't fit in at all, and was sacked quickly. He didn't recover with Paris Saint-Germain, either, and originally signed a short-term deal with Cameroon. He has a good track record with younger players, however, having turned Rennes from a doormat into a decent Ligue One side through shrewd scouting and management.
KEY PLAYERS: They have a lot. Alex Song (Arsenal) is perhaps the key man this time out. He was arguably the Gunners' man of the year, capable on both defense and offense, and has the ability to take over games despite his relative youth -- he's just 22. His uncle, Rigobert (Trabzonspor), is the hard man in the back, known for fouling early and often. Samuel Eto'o is the game-changing forward, though his productivity has dropped since leaving Barcelona for Inter Milan. Of course, he's in the Champions League final, and Barcelona is not. Jean Makoun was a key midfielder for Lyon during their European run. Pierre Webo has shaken off injury to become a solid contributor at Mallorca and could pair up top with Eto'o.
FIFA RANKINGS: 19th. Highest was 11th (2006) and lowest was 62nd (1997).
FIRST ROUND OPPONENTS: Denmark, Japan, Holland
HEAD TO HEAD AGAINST DENMARK: The Lions are 1-0-1 in two friendly meetings, neither particularly recent. In 2001, Denmark won in Copenhagen 2-1; three years prior Cameroon won by the same score, also in Copenhagen.
HEAD TO HEAD AGAINST JAPAN: Cameroon has never beaten Japan, but it should be noted that all the matches have been played on Japanese soil. In the 2001 Confederations Cup, Japan handled Cameroon 2-0. More recently, Japan repeated the feat in a 2007 friendly. Overall, Cameroon is 0-1-2 against the Asian side.
HEAD TO HEAD AGAINST NETHERLANDS: Two friendlies, no wins, all on Dutch soil. Most recent was a 1-0 Dutch win in Rotterdam in 2006; in 1998 in Arnhem the two sides played to a scoreless draw.
HOW THEY QUALIFIED: Cameroon got off to a very slow start, losing to Togo and then playing a scoreless draw against Morocco that saw then-coach Otto Pfister sacked. Le Guen took over and Cameroon proceeded to win four straight to finish atop Group A.
PERCENTAGE CHANCE TO PROGRESS: 75%. They should get out of this group. Holland are the favorites, and the Danes will be tough, but Cameroon should get the African boost and finish safely in the top two.
TO WATCH: Achille Emana. The 28-year old has blossomed in Spain with Real Betis and could be on several teams' radar.
ROSTERGoalkeepers: Hamidou Souleymanou (Kayserispor), Carlos Kameni (Espanyol), Guy Roland Ndy Assembe (Valenciennes), Amour Patrick Tignyemb (Bloemfontein Celtic)
Defenders: Jean Patrick Abouna Ndzana (Astres de Douala), Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Tottenham), Sebastien Bassong (Tottenham), Gaetan Bong (Valenciennes), Aurelien Chedjou (Lille), Geremi Njitap (Ankaragucu), Stephane Mbia (Marseille), Makadji Boukar (Al Nahdha), Nicolas Nkoulou (Monaco), Rigobert Song (Trabzonspor)
Midfielders: Marcel Ndjeng (Augsburg), Enoh Eyong Tarkang (Ajax), Jean II Makoun (Lyon), Georges Mandjeck (Kaiserslautern), Joel Matip (Schalke), Patrick Mevoungou (Canon Sportif de Yaounde), Landry Nguemo (Celtic), Alexandre Song (Arsenal)
Forwards: Vincent Aboubakar (Coton Sport), Eric Choupo-Moting (FC Nuremberg), Achille Emana (Betis), Samuel Eto'o (Inter Milan), Mohamadou Idrissou (Freiburg), Rostand Dorge Kouemaha (FC Brugge), Achille Webo (Mallorca), Jacques Zoua (FC Basel)