Having tested defeat in their respective opening-day fixtures, Cameroon and Serbia will hope to pick up their first win in the tournament when they meet at Al Janoub Stadium on Monday afternoon.
Cameroon marked their return to the World Cup with a 1-0 defeat to Switzerland and Serbia succumbed to a 2-0 defeat against a spirited Brazil team.
Cameroon went toe to toe against Switzerland, who sit 28 steps above the Indomitable Lions in the current FIFA rankings, but they had no answer to Breel Embolo’s early second half goal.
It was Cameroon’s 8th straight defeat at the World Cup finals, with their last win in the competition coming in 2002 when Samuel Eto’o fired in the winner in Cameroon’s 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia.
A defeat on Monday will not only eliminate Cameroon from the World Cup, but also make them part of an undesired World Cup record. If Cameroon lose against Serbia, they will match Mexico’s losing streak of nine World Cup games. It’s the worst run any team ever had in the history of the competition.
Cameroon have been the winning side only once in their last six matches.
They need to rediscover the zeal that propelled them to a third-place finish in the African Cup of Nations earlier this year and dig out a positive result against their Baltic opponents.
Serbia were left in déjà vu after they lost 2-0 to Brazil in their opening fixture.
The scoreline was the same when the two sides had met in the World Cup group stages four years ago in Russia.
While the Eagles have come along a long way since then, the five-time world champions proved that there was still a gulf of difference between the two sides.
But Serbia should be confident of reviving their World Cup campaign with a win against Cameroon.
They have a wealth of attacking options, which helped them finish ahead of Portugal in their World Cup qualification group. It should also be taken into account that Serbia have lost only three times in their last 17 matches.
A win against Cameroon will set up a climactic encounter with Switzerland on the final match day. But Dragan Stojković’s men must have their mind set on overcoming Cameroon first.
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting will return to the Cameroon frontline against Serbia.
The Bayern Munich star has been in excellent form for is club, but he could not hit the target in Cameroon’s World Cup opener. So, he will be desperate to open his goal scoring account in the competition.
Bryan Mbeumo and Karl Toko Ekambi will also be part of the Cameroon attack.
Olivier Ntcham will not be back before the knockout stages, so Cameroon manager Rigobert Song will have to turn to Martin Hongla and André-Frank Zambo Anguissa once again to occupy the midfield.
Aleksandar Mitrović is yet to regain complete match fitness, but he will be trusted to lead the line for Serbia once again.
Dušan Vlahović is expected to start alongside him.
However, Filip Kostić is still doubtful to return at the left wing.
Serbia have enough ammunition in their attack to pick the lock of the Cameroonian defence.
Cameroon might put on a fighting display once again, but it might not be enough to get anything from the match.
We say Serbia 2-1 Cameroon.
Date: November 28
Kickoff Time: 3:30 PM IST
Venue: Al Janoub Stadium