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banner Wednesday, 30 May, 2001, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
Lauren pulls out of Cup
lauren (right)
Lauren (right) celebrates winning Olympic gold
Arsenal midfielder Lauren Etame Mayer came under fire after pulling out of Cameroon's Confederations Cup squad a day before their opening match against Brazil on Thursday.

Cameroon's French coach Pierre Lechantre said Mayer had cited fatigue at the end of a long, hard season as the reason for his late pull-out, which gave Cameroon team bosses no time to call up a replacement.

"What I would have wished is that, if it was his intention not to come, he should let us know in time to call up another player - it is especially that which disappoints me," Lechantre said.

pierre lechantre
Lechantre was unhappy at the short notice
But the coach played down suggestions the African champions would badly miss the midfielder. "Nobody is indispensable and we have some very good players to replace him," he said.

The Indomitable Lions, who beat Brazil on their way to Olympic gold last year, will also be without defenders Michel Pensee Billong, who was arrested on theft charges last week in South Korea, and Patrice Abanda.

Pensee Billong sent home

The place of Abanda, who won Olympic gold last year, has gone to Sedan striker Pius Ndiefi.

Pensee Billong travelled to Japan with the rest of the squad. But with the case against him still outstanding, team management had decided to send him home, Lechantre said.

"I'm sure that the issues surrounding his case will be resolved very quickly but pending that, the decision was taken that it would be better for him to go home."

South Korean police last week said Pensee Billong had been accused by his former club, Sungnam Ilhwa, of stealing 7.4 million won ($5,745) in bank cheques.

Cameroon are in Group B for the tournament, along with Brazil, Japan and Canada.

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