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Friday, 5 April, 2002, 16:34 GMT 17:34 UK
Cameroon's road to the finals
Samuel Eto'o after scoring against Togo in a crucial qualifier
Samuel Eto'o scored in the vital win over Togo
BBC Sport Online reflects on Cameroon's turbulent route to Korea and Japan.

Cameroon suffered just one defeat in eight qualifying games as they finished six points clear of their nearest rivals.

But statistics do not tell the full story of their hectic run-up to the World Cup.

Last July, goals from Samuel Eto'o and Marc-Vivien Foe secured a 2-0 win over Togo and saw Cameroon become the first side to guarantee their place in the Far East.

While results on the pitch nearly all went their way, as usual with the Indomitable Lions things were not quite so simple.

Qualifying campaign
W 3-0 Libya (a)
W 3-0 Angola (h)
W 2-0 Togo (a)
W 1-0 Zambia (h)
W 1-0 Libya (h)
L 0-2 Angola (a)
W 2-0 Togo (h)
D 2-2 Zambia (a)

The campaign was marred with bitter feuding and in-fighting marked by the comings and goings of no less than three coaches during the qualifying stages.

Current manager Winfried Schafer, the German who led Cameroon to African Nations glory this February, was not even installed until after a place in the World Cup had been secured.

The man at the helm when the first steps towards Japan and South Korea were taken was Jean-Paul Akono.

Amazingly, he came under fire from sections of the Cameroon support despite winning his first four Group A games without conceding a goal.

'Manipulation'

But a shock 2-0 loss to Angola, Cameroon's only defeat in the group, added further fuel to the arguments of his detractors and saw him removed from the post in May 2001.

Akono claimed he had been manoeuvred out of the job by his predecessor Pierre Lechantre who was immediately reinstated to the position on a short-term basis.

"Public opinion has been manipulated by some people who wanted Lechantre back," said Akono after being sacked.

Jean-Paul Akono
Results were not enough to save Akono's job

"Lechantre himself was behind this campaign. I lived with that for seven months."

But Lechantre was soon to learn that what goes around comes around.

A disappointing first round exit at last summer's Confederations Cup saw him dismissed for a second time and replaced by fellow Frenchman Robert Corfou.

Just over a week after taking the reins, Corfou led his side to that crucial victory over Togo which guaranteed them their seat at the World Cup party.

But he had always known his involvement would only be short-term.

After a meaningless draw away to Zambia wrapped up the qualification, the revolving doors were in operation once more as Schafer took his place in the hot seat.

And his success in the African Nations Cup earlier this year means that, for now at least, Cameroon feel they have the right man.

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GERMANY 3 +10 7
IRELAND 3 +3 5
CAMEROON 3 -1 4
SAUDI ARABIA 3 -12 0

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