LUBANGO, Angola - African superstar Samuel Eto'o is banking on fighting spirit driving Cameroon into the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) quarterfinals today.
The Indomitable Lions tackle fellow former champions Tunisia at the new 20000-seater Tundavala Stadium in this southern Angola town and the stakes are sky-high.
Victory for four-time titleholders Cameroon over the Carthage Eagles and they are through to the last-eight phase of the biennial African football showcase.
A draw might suffice, depending on what happens between leaders Gabon and lowly Zambia at Ombaka Stadium in Benguela, but a loss will condemn one of the pre-tournament title favourites to a humiliating early exit.
But three-time African footballer of the year and Inter Milan striker Eto'o says the thrilling come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Zambia last Sunday rekindled his pride in the national team.
"I was so proud to be Cameroonian that night, to be part of a team that displayed so much character and could rise to the occasion in the most difficult of situations," said the Lions' captain.
"It was a very difficult match for us with Zambia playing so well and defeat stared us in the face midway through the second half, but we fought on knowing the implications of not securing maximum points."
The striker played a central role in the recovery by scoring the second goal with a trademark clinical finish.
And Eto'o has reason to be hopeful against a Tunisian side that must win to advance.
The tournament may have kicked off with Ivory Coast the favourites, but few rejected the possibility that Cameroon could go all the way for a fifth title.
Tunisian captain and defender Karim Haggui accepts they came into the Cup wearing a work-in-progress tag as caretaker coach Faouzi Benzarti put his faith in youth after a shock failure to reach the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
"We have a young team in Angola that is improving with every game. Chances were missed in our draws against Zambia and Gabon due to inexperience," he confessed.
"However, the outcome of this group is far from settled. We still have to face Cameroon and a win takes us through to the knockout stage." - Sapa-AFP