NATAL, Brazil — Cameroon arrived to the World Cup a day late because of a pay dispute. Now that it is here, it wants to leave the issue back in Africa.
Yet four years after going winless in South Africa and with the first game today against Mexico, the dispute was the first question posed at Thursday's news conference. It took about five seconds for spokesman Rafael Nkoa to silence any answer.
"This press conference has only to do with the game," he 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 federation to take out a loan to meet player demands — harmed team spirit.
"You have to respect a difference in culture," he said. "It's not something to be judged from the outside. Somebody in Germany or in France can't understand how things happen in Cameroon. It works for people in Cameroon. Just respect the way things happen in Africa. We found a solution."
U.S. injury: U.S. defender Timmy Chandler, a candidate to start, didn't play in an intrasquad scrimmage because of a leg injury. Details of the injury weren't disclosed. But spokesman Michael Kammarman said he worked out on his own and is expected back for today's final practice before the Americans travel to Natal for next week's opener against Ghana.
Chile: Coach Jorge Sampaoli said there is a "high possibility" star midfielder Arturo Vidal, who had knee surgery last month, will play today against Australia.
France: Team doctor Franck Le Gall criticized German team Bayern Munich for the way it handled a back injury that caused star forward Franck Ribery to miss the World Cup. Ribery sat out the second leg of a Champions League semifinal April 29 but took pain-killers and entered as a sub in the German Cup final May 17. "He was out for more or less three weeks and played a match which he probably shouldn't have played," Le Gall said. "(Bayern) didn't manage to solve the problem in those three weeks."
Italy: Starting fullback Mattia De Sciglio will miss Saturday's opener against England and possibly the entire tournament with a right leg muscle injury sustained during practice Thursday. Officials didn't disclose details of the injury.
Netherlands: A day before the opener against Spain, players downplayed talk of revenge for the 1-0 loss to it in the 2010 World Cup final. "It's history. It doesn't matter any longer," wing Arjen Robben said. "I don't believe in revenge. This is a group match. You can't compare it."
Portugal: Star forward Cristiano Ronaldo, dealing with left knee and left thigh injuries, left practice early and later had an ice pack over the knee. But midfielder Joao Moutinho said, "Everything is fine with him, but there is some caution."
Quotable: "That is the Brazilian style. We leave everything for the last moment." — Maria Flavio, a volunteer at Salvador's Arena Fonte Nova as wire fences were being unfolded and X-ray security machines were being unpacked a day before the Netherlands and Spain play there