NATAL, Brazil (AP) — Cameroon came late to the World Cup after a bonus dispute caused trouble before the squad got to Brazil. Now that the players are here, the team wants to leave all that back in Africa.
Yet with Friday's first match against Mexico in Group A looming, the dispute was still the first question posed to the players in Thursday's news conference.
It took about five seconds for Cameroon spokesman Rafael Nkoa to silence any answer.
"This press conference has only to do with the game," Nkoa barked. "We don't want to discuss any other matter."
And so they didn't, except for coach Volker Finke's later dismissal that the dispute — which forced the Cameroon Football Federation to take out a private loan to meet player payment demands — had harmed team spirit, just when it needs to be at its best.
That's just how business gets done in Cameroon, Finke said.
"I think you have to respect a difference in culture. It's not something to be judged from the outside. Somebody in Germany, or in France, can't understand how things happen in Cameroon," Volke said. "It works for people in Cameroon. Just respect the way things happen in Africa. We found a solution."
Still, Cameroon seems to be having a hard time finding its footing on a different continent as it tries to avoid a repeat of South Africa 2010 when it lost all three group games and made an early exit.
After their late arrival in Brazil, the team was a day late getting to Natal, then was late getting across town to the Arenas das Dunas stadium for their training and media sessions.
"It's not the end of the world. We work properly, will live together well, we hope to have the best tournament possible," defender Nicolas N'Koulou said.
By contrast, Mexico confidently breezed into this balmy coastal city on a quest to make history for a country that has never advanced past the World Cup quarterfinals.
Continue reading this story on the...