France and England apart, have any other teams been as blunt and disappointing at this World Cup as Denmark and Cameroon? The Danes were woeful against the Netherlands, showing nothing up front while shanking in laughable own-goals and letting Dirk Kuyt outpace them (!) at the back. Cameroon, meanwhile, were The Complete Shambles against Japan, disinterested and disoriented, star man Samuel Eto'o stuck out on the wing, Alex Song stuck on the bench.
Denmark are looking on the bright side. Despite a poor show against Holland, Simon Kjaer and Daniel Agger are a fine central defensive partnership, while up front... well, Kjaer and Agger are something to build on, anyway. Lars Eriksen also holds out hope for "18-year old Ajax wonderkid Christian Eriksen".
Cameroon, well, not so much. Everyone has got the radge on with boss Paul le Guen, who by stymying Eto'o and Song is showcasing all the people skills that stood him in such good stead at Rangers. "Cameroon chose to hire Paul Le Guen as manager and it is up to him to face up to his responsibilities," says Eto'o. "After the World Cup he will have to answer for his decisions. I played where Paul told me to, defending the flank. I am the best striker in the history of Cameroonian and African football, but I have to play where the coach tells me to. I'm obliged to accept difficult situations." Eto'o, as African fitba guru Paul Doyle reports, is now taking press conferences in Le Guen's stead. Oh dear.
Having lost their opening matches, both sides need to get: the battle fever on.
The battle fever will be on at: 7.30pm.
The battle fever will be on in: The Lotus Versfield Stadium, Pretoria.
Put your money on: A 2-1 win for either side. Both encounters between the teams have ended in that score, with each country winning once.
Actually, put it on Denmark: They're unbeaten against African sides in the World Cup (one win and two draws), Cameroon have won just one of their 11 World Cup encounters against European sides, Denmark have always made the knockout stages in their previous World Cup participations (1986, 1998 and 2002), and Le Guen has given everyone involved with Cameroon such a hefty dose of the Barry Ferguson Funk that they might not be able to think straight, never mind kick it in the right direction.
Meanwhile no mention of Denmark on this site should go without a link to this: a 456,000-word collaborative labour of love by the aforementioned Eriksen and Røb Smyth on Danish Dynamite, the ultra-attacking team of Elkjaer, Laudrup and the Olsens that almost conquered Mexico a full 24 years ago.
Denmark: Sorensen, Jacobsen, Kjaer, Agger, Simon Poulsen, Gronkjaer, Christian Poulsen, Jorgensen, Rommedahl, Bendtner, Tomasson.Subs: Andersen, Kvist, Jensen, Kahlenberg, Kroldrup, Jakob Poulsen, Beckmann, Larsen, Enevoldsen, Eriksen, Mtiliga, Christiansen.
The Cameroon of manager Samuel Eto'o, by the looks of it: Hamidou, M'bia Etoundi, N'Koulou, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto, Alex Song, Njitap, Enoh, Emana, Webo, Eto'o.Subs: Kameni, Rigobert Song, N'Guemo, Makoun, Bong, Choupo-Moting, Chedjou, Idrissou, Mandjeck, Matip, Aboubakar, Ndy Assembe.
Referee: Jorge Larrionda (Uruguay)
Pluckity pluck! Off comes the ball of that plinth, referee and teams alike strutting out onto the pitch. The vuvuzelas are pleasing and audible. ITV's Peter Drury is audible.
The national anthems: Cameroon's bustles along at a fair old whack. It's basically the French one, isn't it, the composer's barely bothered to hide the fact. As for the Danish one, well, it doesn't appear to have a tune. Are they using notes? This is very modern. Very Scandinavian.
And we're off! The battle fever's on! Cameroon, in their trademark green shirts, red shorts and yellow socks, kick off. Denmark would have to be wearing that kit for theirs to be trademark, wouldn't it. Anyway, they're wearing their white away kit. Within 30 seconds, Assou-Ekotto takes a wild whack from 30 yards. That's as much ambition as they showed in the entire game against Japan.
3 min: Cameroon chase a promising ball down the right en masse, but Webo and Geremi gang up on Kjaer to concede a free kick. This is a bright start by the African side. "Just wondering if Tomasson could feasibly have got any slower than he was in his 'pomp' at Newcastle," writes someone trading under the name of Squelch. Where's the dignity? "Unless my senility's deceiving me, wasn't that back in the late 1890s or thereabouts? Are these guys on some kind of pure stinkfish diet that aids mobility in middle age? Are they sponsored by Zimmerframe? Expiring minds need to know. On a lighter note, I'm still gagging for a glorious throat high reducer from one of the more impulsive Cameroonian lads. They certainly have a great tradition to live up to, but have Denmark got anyone worth reducing?"
5 min: Eto'o, signally not stationed out on the right wing, cuts inside from the left and has a dig from 25 yards. It's dragged low wide left. This is a very upbeat beginning by Cameroon, a sleepy one from the Danes. "I'm trying to get offended over your crack at Denmark's forward line in the preamble," writes Angharad, in an email with the subject heading Poor Denmark, "but all I can get is depressed. We're kind of rubbish, aren't we?" Poor Denmark!
7 min: Poor Denmark? Pah! This was brilliant. A ball by Christian Poulsen is slipped down the inside-right channel, splitting the Cameroonian defence into several thousand pieces. Rommedahl is set free, romping into the area from the right but blazing excitedly over the bar. Whiffs of offside, but what a pass. What a chance. What a miss.
9 min: Geremi is upended to the left of the Danish box by Gronkjaer. Free kick. Cameroon's number eight takes the kick himself, going direct for goal but looping it straight into Sorensen's arms. Lame.
10 min: ETO'O IN THE CENTRE, AND NOW LOOK. Cameroon 1-0 Denmark. Denmark good at the back, did I say. Jebus. Just outside his area, Christian Poulsen plays a dreadful blind pass wide right. Webo picks it up and from the Cameroon left wing rolls the ball back into the centre for Eto'o, who wheechs the ball under the advancing Sorensen and into the net.
13 min: So close to the second goal for Cameroon. Christian Poulsen half-hacks a clearance straight to Emana, who standing just outside the area to the right of goal, wallops a daisybothering shot just wide left. Not sure Sorensen would have got to that if it was on target.
15 min: The Danes can't get into this at all.
17 min: A bit better by Denmark, Rommedahl, Jorgensen and Tomasson pinging it around a wee while down the inside-right channel, Gronkjaer eventually taking a whack towards the bottom-right corner from outside the box . The ball's deflected wide right; corner. From which the ball's played to the far post, Gronkjaer stooping low to send an Andy Gray header well wide left of goal.
20 min: Enoh takes a whack from 25 yards, straight into Sorensen's arms. Seconds before, the very impressive Emana nearly bustled clear into the area down the inside-left channel. The Danes look all over the shop at the back. Please don't re-read my preamble. Speaking of lost dignity, here's what happened to Squelch's (3 mins): "It vanished in a haze of clogged shinbones and exploded cartilages, a long time ago. My elbows remain sharp, and my ankle-tapping technique is still pretty nifty. Bowls is a much dirtier game than you think, you cheeky young whippersnapper. My timely throat clearing and asthmatic wheezing have yipped out many a young pretender."
23 min: Geremi looks to have the run of Simon Poulsen down the right. This time the Danish full-back gets to the ball first - just about - but the Cameroon veteran was close to nipping clear into the area, with Eto'o lurking, needless to say, in the centre.
25 min: The crowd here are debuting a new vuvuzela technique. It's a very stacatto style. It's a bit like the guitar in Begging You by the Stone Roses.
27 min: Not much happening out on the pitch at the moment. Some dude in a bright yellow sports jacket has just been jogging in the jaunty manner all round the stadium, waving at the crowd. Eventually he's stopped by a steward, who places both hands on his chest and asks him what the effing hell he thinks he's doing. His gallop stopped, a small scribbly cloud of unhappiness hovers over the bloke in the sports jacket's head. Aw.
30 min: Emana takes a skelp from 30 yards. He's just to the left of goal, which is where the ball stays.
33 min: AND FROM ABSOLUTELY NOTHING... Cameroon 1-1 Denmark. From a long raking diagonal Kjaer pass, the defender standing in the left-back position, Rommedahl tears down the right past Assou-Ekotto, and squares the ball low for Bendtner, who slides in eight yards out and pokes home. That's a beautifully simple goal, elegant, clean angles, classic Scandanavian design, although in the centre Bassong and Nkoulou were nowhere!
36 min: Geremi sends a first-time bouncing bomb across the front of the six-yard box from the right wing. Neither Webo nor Eto'o can get on the end of it. What a ball that was! One that qualifies as "almost too good", even if that actually means nothing when you apply the slightest shard of logic to it. "Nice to see the crowd beginning to wax their musicality, let us know when they get to Stairway to Heaven," says Dave Douglas at Bob Harris volume, nodding his head in a mellow fashion, rolling a Vuvuzela Cigarette on the cover of a Bob Dylan LP.
40 min: Denmark are enjoying more of the ball now, but are doing very little with it. In fact, it's still Cameroon who look the more dangerous, Geremi totally owning Simon Poulsen down the right and sending another dangerous cross in; this time Souleymanou comes from his line to pluck from the air. "Whenever anyone mentions Andy Gray (as you did, on 17 min), I'm reminded of his short-lived The Boot Room," writes Mac Millings. "He used to sign his name "Andi Gray" on the screen at the break, and one episode, his carpet-chested sidekick Richard Keys asked, "Why 'Andi' with an 'i'?" but in a way that suggested he was questioning 'Andi's' manhood. By the look he gave, Gray was this close to butting Keys's nose through the back of his brain cavity, and I like to think that, in several alternative universes, that's exactly what he did." The Boot Room short-lived? Are you sure? I watched it once and I'm sure it went on for about 17 years. They'll have only needed a three-episode run for the thing to have been more long-running than The Sky At Night.
42 min: Jazz defending by Cameroon. Song gifts the ball to Bendtner, who releases Rommedhal down the inside-right channel. He cuts inside and pulls the ball back for Tomasson - but the shot's charged down by the initial villain Song.
43 min: Silent movie defending at the back from the Danes. First they put a ball on a plate for Eto'o, just outside the area; the striker lashes a shot off the left-hand post. Then Agger and Kjaer are sent spinning like tops, allowing the excellent Emana to waltz straight through the middle and into the area; unfortunately for Cameroon his insouciant outside-of-the-foot finish flies straight into Sorensen's arms. The Danes are a joke in defence.
HALF TIME: Cameroon 1-1 Denmark. An entertaining half, that. Two great goals, though God alone knows what both defences were doing. You really have to see some of the Danish defending to believe it. And to think this was flagged up as their strong suit. "I think it's fair to say that without the Stone Roses, there really never would have been a vuvuzela," opines Danny Hicks. "And certainly not one with just the right amount of delay and reverb." Treasure the sound. It's going to take this Pretoria crowd another six years to come up with anything even half as good.
And we're off again! A couple of changes. Jensen for Jorgensen, Makoun for Enoh. "Jesus, what was I on about?" wonders Lars Eriksen, co-author with Røb Smyth of this sprawling must-read classic, joining my club of self-doubters. "Defence our strong suit? Hah! At least this must be a cracking game for you to watch," he adds, suggesting somewhat that he's not exactly enjoying the free-love approach being practiced by his defenders.
46 min: Not too much time in the half elapses before Cameroon win a corner down the right. From it, Mbia wins a header eight yards out, level with the near post, but heads over. Agger looks to have helped the ball on its upward trajectory, but there's no second corner.
48 min: Geremi's been excellent in this match. Yet again he's all over Simon Poulsen down the right. He clips a ball across the face of goal, but Webo can't get to it, while Assou-Ekotto is denied at the far post by the fresh Jensen.
50 min: Bassong is booked for tugging back Bendtner. Free kick, 30 yards out, just to the right of the D. Agger's low shot is piss-pøør, straight into the wall, but the ball pings back for Kjaer, who unleashes a rising screamer just over the bar. What an effort! Actually, it looks as though Souleymanou got a finger to that, though no corner's awarded. That's one apiece in the half, and moral equilibrium is restored.
53 min: Simon Poulsen's had a bit of a shocker so far, but now he chases after Gronkjaer's pass down the left and forces Bassong to hack his clever centre clear with Bendtner lurking. The resulting corner's a complete waste of time. The entire world's time.
55 min: Webo and Kjaer clash heads. The defender's Torres-lite haircut doesn't act as much as a helmet - Bret from Flight of the Conchords would be disgusted - and much stumbling around and frowning ensues. Everyone's going to be OK, I think.
58 min: Eto'o turns down the inside-right channel and feeds the ball forward to Webo - who rugby unions it over the bar. That was a real wild skied hoof, the sort of thing Roberto Rivelino was doing every five seconds during the 1970 World Cup final. "If the free love defending ends will they start taking hostages and commit drug-fuelled heinous acts in the box?" asks Ian Copestake. I'm trusting the tail end of that gag doesn't utilise euphamism, Copestake. This has been a family newspaper for hundreds of years.
61 min: Cameroon are beginning to get the better of this again. Assou-Ekotto skates down the left and feeds the ball inside to Webo, who turns but can only scuff his shot towards the keeper. Chris Roberts has kindly sent in a version of this MBM report with added vuvuzela. So then, for your leisure and pleasure...
62 min: "CAMEROON ARE BEGINNING TO GET THE BETTER OF THIS." Cameroon 1-2 Denmark. Wow. From the centre circle, Bendtner sends a raking pass down the right to Rommedahl, who cuts inside the second he reaches the area and unleashes an unstoppable curler into the bottom-left corner. Cameroon are off home unless they can score.
63 min: Cameroon attempt to hit back immediately. The ball's swung into the area from the right, Webo heading high and wide left.
65 min: Mbia is pushing forward, having clearly decided not to hang about until it's too late. First he nearly latches onto a pass down the inside-right channel, Kjaer coming across to cover. Then he has a whack from distance, his low daisycutter from 35 yards hitting his own man Webo. "Geremi, Rommedahl, Tomasson, Gronjkaer, Rigobert Song on the bench," counts Ray Kelly. "ITV HD have screwed up again and are showing a game from France '98, aren't they?" ITV HD could be showing the 1938 quarter-final between France and blackshirt-sporting Italy to jaunty music, and they'd still not be cocking this World Cup up as badly as the smug, complacent BBC.
66 min: Cameroon really have the battle fever on at the moment. Eto'o clips a ball back from the byline on the right, Makoun cutting in from the left and blazing over from ten yards.
67 min: Change for the Danes: Gronkjaer departs, Kahlenberg arrives.
69 min: Pass, pass, pass, pass, passity, pass, pass. That's what Cameroon do, Eto'o eventually hacking an effort wide right. They don't deserve to be losing this game. Then again, having scored two wonderful goals, Denmark sort of deserve to be winning it. I'm confused.
71 min: This should have been it. Bendtner's ball is clipped over the Cameroonian back line down the inside-left channel, releasing both Tomasson and Rommedahl in the box. The latter lays off for the former, who scoops a poor effort straight at Souleymanou. He should have smashed that. What an opportunity spurned.
73 min: Bassong is replaced by Idrissou. "Turns out that bad defence makes for much more entertaining football," argues Frank G, all the way from the USA. "Therefore, I suggest that the defensive players of all teams need to consume at least three beers before each WC match. There's a potentially positive side effect – it might make the British team look better, too." Hey, don't be bringing Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland into this. It's World Cup time, we're just minding our own business.
75 min: Mbia is booked for a late scythe on Kahlenberg. "If the point of the game were passing," philosophises Brad Wilson, "wouldn't Arsene Wenger's Arsenal teams have about 17 trophies by now? They don't, so Denmark deserves to win. Q.E.D." Oh. OK. Well, that's the end of this report, then, everyone. Thanks! Bye!
77 min: Emana, who has been quiet for a wee while, suddenly bursts into life down the right, chasing a flick on. He reaches the box and whacks a low shot towards the bottom-left corner - but Sorensen is all over it, fingertipping clear. That was fizzing in. Great play all round.
79 min: The 18-year-old Aboubakar replaces Webo up front for Cameroon. Fairytale, please!
80 min: Idrissou gets his head on a corner from the right, but can only send the ball miles high and wide left of the target. "Whenever M'Bia touches the ball I intone Homer Simpson stylee Mmm Beer," offers Kevin Porter, in the manner of a child proudly showing his parents the picture he drew at school. I'll print that out and put it on the Guardian Villas fridge after the game, Kevin. Well done!
82 min: We nearly had our fairytale there, Aboubakar whacking a shot goalbound from the edge of the area. Christian Poulsen takes the ball smack in the face, deflecting it out for a corner - and is dazed, Murdo McLeod v Brazil in 1990 style. What a moment in this match. The corner, sadly for Cameroon, comes to naught.
85 min: From a ball worked in from the right, Idrissou heads over from eight yards. He was leaning back, but still should have got that on target.
86 min: Tomasson is replaced by Poulsen. Sorensen is booked for timewasting.
87 min: Cameroon are five or six minutes tops away from going out of this World Cup. They've played very well, too. Can they save themselves?
88 min: Kjaer is booked for felling Aboubakar 35 yards out, to the left of the box. Geremi dinks a free kick into the area; it's easily cleared by the first man. Both teams are making nervous mistakes; the story of the match writ large.
89 min: Eto'o wins a corner down the right, twisting and turning. Nowt comes of it. The tension is palpable: the Stone Roses vuvuzela tribute band, once blazing out Begging You, is now playing at the tempo of Ten Storey Love Song, or maybe even the opening stanza of Tightrope.
90 min: There will be three added minutes of this.
90 min +1: Cameroon can't get the ball.
90 min +2: Geremi curls a long cross in from the right, but Sorensen comes out to claim. Aboubakar attempts to sashay down the inside-left channel, but can't reach the area, Agger coming across to pluck the ball off his toe. Cameroon are 60 seconds away from becoming the first team to be knocked out of World Cup 2010.
FULL TIME: Cameroon 1-2 Denmark. And that's it. Denmark are still in it, Holland are through to the second round, Cameroon are out of the World Cup. Paul Le Guen is bound to get pelters back home for his selection in the first game against Japan - they were much better today. He'll possibly get pelters in the changing room from his players now. Actually, possibly? Nah. It'll be happening for sure. "The picture of Le Guen is from his Paris St Germain days," writes Craig Speirs tersely. "Not Glasgow Rangers." Er, thanks Craig. Can you also spot what I've crudely Photoshopped onto the toppermost of his noggin?
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