Cameroon were disappointing in their World Cup opener on Thursday, as they lost out 1-0 to Switzerland in a drab opening to Group G.
Tipped as potential winners by...*checks notes* president of the national FA Samuel Eto'o, Cameroon displayed nothing in Thursday's early kick-off to suggest that they will even be able to progress from a tough group which also features Brazil and Serbia.
Eto'o's reign as president of the Cameroonian FA has been contentious, with manager Rigobert Song appointed with little top-level coaching experience just months before the World Cup. Previous manager Toni Conceição was also strangely sacked despite a strong AFCON campaign this year, and leading the team to the World Cup play-offs.
Richie Sadlier and Kevin Doyle appeared on RTÉ's coverage of Switzerland v Cameroon and, when discussing the strange goings on at the Cameroonian FA, they surprisingly made reference to Irish president Michael D Higgins.
Cameroon: Sadlier and Doyle dumbfounded by Cameroonian FA
Rigobert Song's management of the Cameroon team in Thursday's World Cup opener was questionable at best. His second half substitutions, in particular, drew the ire of Richie Sadlier and Kevin Doyle in the RTÉ studio.
His decision to remove star man Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting in the second half was a strange call, and Sadlier and Doyle could not understand the decision.
When discussing the performance, Sadlier and Doyle were drawn to discussing Eto'o's strange decisions in charge of the Cameroon FA. When announcing Song as manager, Eto'o claimed that the president of Cameroon himself had called for his appointment. Though this has never been confirmed, Sadlier and Doyle said that it showed the disarray in the Cameroonian FA, and joked about the potential for a similar scenario in Ireland.
Sadlier: That's not a Cameroon side that are going to do anything in this tournament. All the talk from Eto'o, or wherever they are in the rankings in Africa...if you produce performances like that, you're going to go nowhere in this tournament.
Doyle: He [Eto'o] picked the manager only six months ago.
Cantwell: Well, he claims the Cameroonian president insisted that the manager be Rigobert Song.
Sadlier: But, even that - let's say that that's the truth. Why is a country's president having a say, let alone the deciding vote? [...] Bring it to this country - ringing Michael D, asking "who should we appoint?" He wouldn't be in the room, he wouldn't be consulted in any properly functioning FA.
Doyle: He knows his soccer though, Michael D!
Sadlier: Even so, come on.
Doyle: Even Samuel Eto'o - brilliant player, rich man you'd have to imagine. If someone's ringing you saying 'I want this manager', wouldn't you just resign the job?
Michael D Higgins is, famously, a football fan, and has been heavily involved with Galway United in previous years. He is also regularly spotted at League of Ireland games up and down the country.
Rigobert Song was a former teammate of Samuel Eto'o's with the national team, and played in a remarkable four World Cups for his country. The close relationship between Song and Eto'o has led to questions being raised about the nature of his appointment as manager.
His lack of experience at the highest level has also been cited as an issue by pundits. When asked if the situation was comparable with Stephen Kenny's appointment as Ireland manager, Richie Sadlier outlined the differences between the two:
Yeah, but there was European experience there with Dundalk. It's not comparing like for like. It was the appointment, the possible personal relationship which influenced this. [...] The performance he gave as coach of the U23s was unimpressive. They didn't qualify for the Olympics, he didn't make his mark. Sometimes you can come from a younger age group up and you think 'well, that's why - if he reproduces what he did with that lot we're laughing.' But he didn't even have that on his CV.
It will take a serious push for Cameroon to get out of their group now, with their final two games against group favourites Brazil and Serbia.