While Cameroonians are proud at having set a benchmark for African football by reaching the quarter-finals of Italia 90 they are mindful that the team's four other participations ended with a first-round exit. But fans expect them to have a good chance of second place behind Brazil. A lot depends on the likes of Samuel Eto'o and Aurélien Chedjou being in form while there are high hopes for the new star, 17-year-old Fabrice Olinga of Malaga. Mexico's qualifying record was awful, with just two wins and seven goals scored in ten games, but fan confidence is boosted by the fact that the team have got through to the second round five times in a row. Any advancement on that would be considered a miracle.
Coach Miguel Herrera took over for the play-offs against New Zealand so he's still on the honeymoon period. Unlike his predecessors, he seems happy to be a public persona giving plenty of interviews and being active on social media. Then again, if the team flop badly he'll become the country's number one enemy for a while.
Cameroon's Volker Finke was a controversial appointment by a federation who have a habit of hiring and firing coaches on a whim. He had a difficult start but is now a popular figure and seems to manage the egos in the team well, most notably Eto'o who was previously rumoured to make key decisions, including player selection.
Eto'o has the most commercial endorsements in the squad, advertising Puma and phones from SET Mobile as well as joining Geremi Njitap and Alex Song in promoting the football academy they went to. Song also advertises Guinness and MTN, a South African mobile company who are the biggest service provider in Cameroon. In Mexico, Rafa Márquez is known for being an entrepreneur – he had a restaurant in Barcelona and has now opened a couple of rehab clinics for sportsmen at home. As with every World Cup, the entire team take part in ads on the two main TV chains, Televisa and TV Azteca which essentially control Mexican football.
Coach Herrera is by far the best interviewee, while Javier Hernández is probably the least communicative. Left-back Miguel Layún is also very good with the media, especially due to his rags-to-riches story. At one time he seemed to be picked for his club, América, however he was playing so the fans created a hashtag #todoesculpadeLayún (everything is Layún's fault). When he scored the decisive penalty in the championship play-off a year ago, he became a hero, so now the hashtag is used in a positive way, and even Layún wrote #todoesculpamía (it's all my fault).
QPR's Benoît Assou-Ekotto is seen as the most approachable character in the Cameroonian squad. Eto'o is also good but is known in local media circles as a volatile character and can be difficult especially if questioned about his performance. Former Marseille goalkeeper Joseph-Antoine Bell is the best known among several ex-players working as studio pundits for Cameroon TV, though journalists who are bilingual in French and English tend to be the ones used for commentary duties.
It's not yet clear how many Cameroon fans will be in Brazil but most will be there on trips funded by commercial sponsors, and in some cases through winning competitions or ballots for tickets. Mexico fans are known to be keen travellers at World Cup time – there were around 30,000 in Germany for the 2006 finals and they are expected to top that number for Brazil. The unofficial anthem is Cielito Lindo, a song that is not football related but has become a trademark since France 98. For this World Cup, the Mexican FA asked a famous rock band, Moderatto, to compose a song, Voy A Ganar (I Will Win), which turned out to be a dreadful dirge, with far more "dislikes" than "likes" on YouTube. Martin del Palacio Langer & Osric Tening Forton
This preview was originally published in the World Cup Team Guide that went on sale with WSC 328 on May 8, all information was correct at the time of publication