Mexican wave to sink Cameroon.
Both sides know they need to hit the ground running if they are to qualify from Group A.
Central-Americans Mexico will see this as their best chance of victory with games against Brazil and Croatia to come.
The Mexicans are seeking to qualify for the knock-out stages for the sixth consecutive tournament and are still backboned by their aging captain Rafael Marquez, who lines out as one of three central defenders.
However, it is up front where they struggled during qualifying. Carlos Vela remains in self-imposed exile while new manager Miguel Herrera has relied on home-based players with Oribe Peralta becoming the main man in attack, meaning there have been less opportunities for European-based stars Giovanni Dos Santos and Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez.
In fairness to Herrera, Mexico’s goal-scoring stats have improved since his appointment and after a poor qualifying campaign in the CONCACAF region they finally secured their place with a convincing 9-3 aggregate play-off victory against New Zealand.
Cameroon also found goals hard to come by in qualifying and remain heavily reliant on the influential Samuel Eto’o.
The ‘Indomitable Lions’ proved anything but during qualifying and may not have reached the finals at all had Togo not fielded an ineligible player, which overturned a 2-0 defeat for Cameroon into a victory.
Cameroon have appeared at each finals since 1990 but have not got out of the group stage since their quarter-final run in Italy and arrive in Brazil with arguably their weakest ever World Cup squad. Indeed, they only touched down in Brazil on Monday after a row over bonuses delayed their departure, suggesting theirs is a far from a happy camp.
Besides Eto’o, Barcelona’s Alex Song is their only other player with star quality and much will depend on how these two – who famously do not get on – fare in the tournament.
With Mexico playing five across the back, it’s hard to see Cameroon scoring. A Mexico victory (13/10) looks likely then and a 2-0 victory looks tempting at 15/2. Oribe Peralta is 9/2 to score first.
The match kicks off at 5pm UK time on Friday, June 13th in Arena das Dunas, Natal.