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Saturday, May 18, 2002

Cameroon keep faith with champions
Tansa Musa

YAOUNDE, May 18 (Reuters) - Cameroon named their World Cup squad on Saturday less than 24 hours after a 2-1 defeat by Denmark brought the African champions sharply down to earth.

German coach Winfried Schafer stuck largely with the squad which successfully retained the African Nations Cup in February in Mali.

Friday's defeat ended an unbeaten run lasting since before the Nations Cup and gave the team a reality check as they headed for Asia on Saturday.

They take on Ireland, Saudi Arabia and Germany in the World Cup group E, and after Friday's loss Shafer said his team would be taking no chances against the weaker opponents in the group.

"Any one who under-rates Ireland will be heading for the grave," he told state radio after the match.

Still, Shafer's confidence seemed intact.

"I just hope that by the time Cameroon meets Germany (Cameroon's third match) the two teams must have already won their tickets for the second round.

"If not, it will be a German who will eliminate Germany from the World Cup," Shafer said. "Cameroon has a big surprise for everyone in Japan and Korea."

Cameroon made the quarter finals of the 1990 World Cup -- further than any other African side has gone -- and will make history this time too as the continent's first side to appear at five World Cup tournaments.

Shafer kept in star striker Patrick Mboma despite doubt over his match fitness. The Parma-based player has been on loan to Sunderland for the past few months, but has barely played due to a string of nagging injuries, the worst being a torn tendon.

Shafer had already shortlisted 29 players 10 days ago, and whittled the list down to the final 23 - one more than he had to play with in Mali.

Of the Nations Cup veterans only defender Jean Dika Dika, who plays with Portuguese side Unaio Lamas, was left out with a knee injury.

He is replaced by Pierre Njanka Beaka of English side Portsmouth, who missed the Nations Cup injured.

The other addition is striker Joseph Desire Job of French club Metz.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Alioum Boukar (Samsunspor, Turkey), Jacques Songo'o (Metz, France), Idriss Carlos Kameni (Juventus, Italy).

Defenders: Rigobert Song (captain; FC Cologne, Germany), Raymond Kalla Nkongo (Extremadura, Spain), Lucien Mettomo (Manchester City, England), Pierre Wome Nlend (Bologna, Italy), Pierre Njanka Beaka (Portsmouth, England).

Midfielders: Bill Tchato (Montpellier, France), Nicolas Alnoudji (Caykur Rizespor, Turkey), Eric Djemba Djemba (Nantes, France), Marc-Vivien Foe (Lyon, France), Lauren Etame Mayer (Arsenal, England), Joseph Cyrille Ndo (Al Khalees, Saudi Arabia), Daniel Ngom Kome (Numancia, Spain), Geremy Njitap Fotso (Real Madrid, Spain), Salomon Olembe (Marseille, France), Joel Epalle (Panahaiki, Greece)

Strikers: Samuel Eto'o Fils (Real Mallorca, Spain), Patrick Mboma (Parma, Italy; on loan to Sunderland, England), Pius Ndiefi (Sedan, France), Patrick Suffo (Numancia, Spain), Joseph-Desire Job (Metz, France)

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