DOHA (Reuters) - Cameroon were the last African side with a chance of getting through to the last 16 of the World Cup, but they were always up against it after failing to win in their opening two games in Qatar and having Brazil as opponents in their last Group G game on Friday.
But a 1-0 victory over the five-time world champions, albeit fielding a second-string side, will temper the disappointment of yet another early exit for the Indomitable Lions, just as Tunisia beating World Cup holders France earlier this week softened the blow of their depature from the tournament.
Cameroon might have been to more World Cups than any other African team but Friday's victory over Brazil was a first at the World Cup in two decades and only a fifth since they made the first of their eight appearances in Spain in 1982.
Cameroon have long been riding on the reputation forged at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, when they beat holders Argentina, Romania and Colombia on their way to the last eight, becoming the first African country to get that far.
One win in 17 matches since that tournament showed stagnation and even with the win over Brazil, there is little left of the charisma that they created some 32 years ago.
Cameroon were most fortunate to qualify for Qatar with a stoppage time goal away against Algeria in extra time of their playoff tie in March but it has allowed Samuel Eto’o, the four-time African Footballer of the Year, the opportunity to put his stamp on the team.
He won a tightly contested election one year ago to become the new Cameroon Football Federation president and has set about stamping out the foibles of old and adding a professionalism to their organisation that was missing when he was a player.
But there is also an accusation he is too involved, after appointing former teammate Rigobert Song as coach in February, and pulls too many strings from behind.
The fall out with first choice goalkeeper Andre Onana, who quit the camp after their second game, has yet to be properly explained but points to problems behind the scenes – possibly the same that has beset their football for some time now.
(Editing by Angus MacSwan)