Cameroon’s German coach Otto Pfister is confident his side can make the World Cup finals themselves after the Indomitable Lions safely negotiated the first round of qualifiers.
The Cameroonians won Group 1 of 2010 World Cup and Nations Cup qualifying with a match to spare after beating Cape Verde 2-1 in Praia on Saturday.
The victory leaves the five-time World Cup finalists four points clear with just a home match against Mauritius next month.
“Now we wait for the draw, but we have every chance of making it through and I think we can do it,” Pfister told BBC Sport.
The veteran coach, who led Togo at the 2006 finals in his German homeland, expects his team’s performances to rise in the next round when they will face superior opposition.
“When we have stronger opponents, we are more concentrated,” he said, perhaps excusing narrow qualifying wins against not only Cape Verde but Tanzania as well.
“I now hope that we have some good opponents in our group so that we can be 100% focused and then I think we will have a good chance.
The 2008 Nations Cup runners-up were unconvincing on Praia’s artificial pitch in the first half, failing to register a shot on target as the home side deservedly led 1-0 at the break thanks to Lito’s 40th-minute strike.
“I spoke to the boys at half-time and told them it was time to take responsibility,” Pfister said. The Indomitable Lions – missing the suspended Samuel Eto’o – turned the match around thanks to goals from two substitutes introduced at half-time.
After 52 minutes, Cape Verde goalkeeper Ernesto allowed the visitors back into the match when inexplicably, and horribly, failing to hold Achille Emana?s speculative 25-yard shot.
“Football is like that sometimes,” defender Andre Bikey told BBC Sport.
“We didn’t play well in the first half so we had problems, but when we followed the manager’s instructions in the second half we got our goals.”
Cameroon wrapped up the points after 66 minutes when Somen Tchoyi neatly side-footed home Augustin Binya’s expert right-wing cross after good build-up from Alexander Song, who was sent off late on.
Joao de Deus, the coach of vanquished opponents Cape Verde, refused to blame his goalkeeper for a mistake that could prove very costly for the islanders’ qualification dreams.
“The first goal changed the match but our goalkeeper has saved us on many occasions so we can’t blame him for anything – and we won’t do that,” the Portuguese coach told BBC Sport.
“Now we are not in a very good position to achieve the qualification but we will try to beat Tanzania in Tanzania – and that is all.”
While Cape Verde will hope to reach the second phase of qualifying as one of the best group runners-up, Cameroon entertain Mauritius in a match which means little for both sides.