Rigobert Song expressed regret over Cameroon’s first two World Cup displays after they were eliminated from Group G despite becoming the first African team to beat Brazil at the tournament.
Cameroon needed to beat the pre-tournament favourites to have any chance of joining them in the last 16 on Friday, and they did so in dramatic fashion as Vincent Aboubakar scored a stoppage-time winner before receiving a second yellow card for celebrating by removing his shirt.
However, Switzerland’s thrilling 3-2 win over Serbia ensured Murat Yakin’s side finished two points clear of Cameroon, condemning them to a sixth consecutive group-stage exit at the World Cup.
The Indomitable Lions did at least go out on a high by ending Brazil’s perfect World Cup record against African sides (previously played seven, won seven), but Song felt the result showed Cameroon could have gone further.
“I didn’t even realise that this was such a historic victory. We are one of the African countries who have played more World Cups than most, and now we’ve beaten Brazil,” Song said.
“My players deserve to be congratulated. They showed tonight they could have done better in the first two games [a 1-0 defeat to Switzerland and a 3-3 draw with Serbia].
“I think we do have a feeling of regret. Now we realise we could have done better. But we need to look on the positive side as well.
2006 – Vincent Aboubakar is the first player to score and be sent off in a World Cup match since Zinedine Zidane vs Italy in the 2006 final. Sign-off.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe)
“I’m trying to get across a team spirit, that lion’s spirit, which needs to be the key to Cameroon teams.
“We realise now we could have done better in this tournament. We’re a young team and today we’ve seen our young team getting stronger and stronger.”
Cameroon began 2022 by finishing third at the Africa Cup of Nations on home soil, and with just over a year to prepare for the next edition of that tournament – which was pushed back to January 2024 due to weather concerns in Ivory Coast, Song is backing them to improve further.
“There’s another tournament in 2024 and we’ve built up some momentum now,” Song added.
“I’m satisfied with tonight’s performance. I took over the national team not too long ago and I think we are progressing and improving, so I’m proud of this team.”