Former Chelsea man says Eto’o ‘playing at that level’ can help nation ‘do something’ in Brazil

Geremi Njitap believes that Chelsea man Samuel Eto'o can help inspire Cameroon to glory today, and next summer.

Eyebrows were certainly raised when Chelsea snapped up Samuel Eto’o on a free transfer in the summer - as Jose Mourinho decided another year out on loan for Romelu Lukaku was the best plan for the future.

The Cameroonian has since begun to find his feet after what was a difficult start - becoming used to playing in the advanced striker role rather than the deeper position he played in while at Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala.

He shows no loss of his poaching ability - just ask Schalke 04 goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand if you do not believe me.

And a previous Cameroonian international and Chelsea star has been vindicating the move - hoping it can see him finally kick his sleeping lion of a nation into life.

Geremi Njitap was signed by Chelsea after an impressive season on loan at Middlesbrough and an even more notable Confederations Cup with his nation. The £6.9 million deal from Real Madrid saw Geremi play at Chelsea for four years in a number of different positions before he moved on to Newcastle United in 2007 - retiring in 2011 after finishing his career in Turkey and Greece.

And this is what he said about Eto’o - ahead of Cameroon’s crunch World Cup qualifying play-off with Tunisia this afternoon:

"He is a guy who loves the Cameroon jersey - I think if you ask him he'd say 'I'd love to play for Cameroon all my life. Playing at Chelsea will help him for this qualifier and if we do qualify (for the World Cup), playing at that level will help him prepare well."

The Indomitable Lions were not at the World Cup in 2006 - and the campaign in South Africa in 2010 is certainly one they want to forget quickly.

The Chelsea attacker’s latest comments are sure to stoke the flames ahead of the clash, with the former Bayer Leverkusen star stating that England striker Wayne Rooney would not command a place in the Germany team.

“Rooney is a great player, but we have good quality, too, in every position, and maybe twice, so I don’t know if he would play,” Schurrle said.

Germany’s visit will be a stern test for England, especially after the disappointment of losing 2-0 to Chile on home soil on Friday night.

Joachim Low’s men are sure to be one of the frontrunners for the World Cup in Brazil next summer, with their talented side sure to give Roy Hodgson’s men a tough 90 minutes.

Despite the considerable talent in the Germany ranks at the moment, would England’s most gifted player Rooney make their starting XI?

Germany play a 4-2-3-1 system, similar to Manchester United, in which Rooney operates as a number ten. If the England star was available to the Germans, he would have the likes of Mesut Ozil, Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller to compete with for a place behind the main striker.

As such, it would be a tough ask for the United man to make the cut, and he would be by no means a certainty to start.

However, despite quality in every position like, Schurrle has pointed out, the one position are potentially weakest is in the striking department.

The European nation have had some of the best number nines in the game at their disposal in the past, but the current squad is lacking a proven predator on the world stage.

In their 1-1 draw with Italy on Friday night, Gotze played as the furthest man forward as a false nine, but failed to inspire the required confidence that he can be the player to fill the position at the World Cup.

Other options for Low in the number nine role include 35-year-old Miroslav Klose, Borussia Monchengladbach forward Max Kruse and Schurrle himself. Of the players not in the current squad, there is an argument for Leverkusen’s Stefan Kiessling to be a contender and also Fiorentina’s Mario Gomez.

However, it seems like Rooney could well be just the player that Germany need to complete a World Cup winning side. His strength, work rate, ability to bring others into the game and eye for goal seem like the perfect match for the number nine role in Low’s side.

Rooney will be keen to prove himself against the Germans on Tuesday, and Schurrle’s comments will only spur the United striker on more.

However, the reality is that Rooney may well be the only player at Roy Hodgson’s disposal that would command a place in the visitors’ team given the quality available to Low.

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image: © ennaimi

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