Coach Rigobert Song said on Wednesday that qualification meant nothing as he backed unheralded Cameroon to become the last team to pull off a World Cup shock.
Cameroon enter their eighth World Cup, but the 1990 quarter-finals are not the force they were: they are in a lowly 43rd place and have barely qualified for Qatar.
They won the previous World Cup in 2002 and will be tough underdogs in the top-ranked Group G trio of Brazil, Serbia and Switzerland.
But Saudi Arabia stunned Lionel Messi’s Argentina 2-1 on Tuesday and a day later Japan also came from behind to beat Germany by the same scoreline.
Former international defender and skipper Song said it was proof that Cameroon could pull off a surprise, starting against Switzerland on Thursday.
“We have already seen surprises in this World Cup, we respect our opponents, but on the field you will see who is stronger,” said the 46-year-old, who is known as Cameroon football legend “Big”. Boss”.
“When you’re on the football field, standings go out the window.”
Song, a former Liverpool defender who was appointed Cameroon coach in March, said his men had been able to prepare for the World Cup without the distractions of the past.
“We are very relaxed and happy that the mistakes of the past have not been repeated,” he said.
“We have not had an argument about salaries or money; things have changed in the football federation now that (former striker) Samuel Eto’o is the president.
“He’s a hard worker, every day to make sure the players are as prepared as possible.
“Hopefully this time he’ll be calm, ready and focused.”
Song played in four World Cups and hopes to draw on that experience to help his team deal with the pressure in Qatar, especially the younger players.
“When I talk to the younger generation they know what they have to do, I try to help and help them manage their emotions in this tournament and try to avoid the mistakes of the past,” he said.