Finnan debut close

Friday 31 May 2002

Fulham full-back Steve Finnan is gearing up for his World Cup bow as the Republic of Ireland prepare to play Cameroon tomorrow morning.

The Irish, still haunted by the Roy Keane exit and subsequent aftermath which has troubled their preparations over the past week, begin their latest finals adventure against highly-rated opponents.

But Cameroon, winners of both the 2000 and 2002 African Nations Cup tournaments, have had troubles of their own and were four days late arriving in their training base in Japan.

The Group E match in Niigata begins at 7.30am (BST) and is the second game of the tournament after France's opener with Senegal today.

Germany and Saudi Arabia make up that group, with those two countries playing each other in Sapporo four hours after the Republic's match begins.

The African side, now taking part in their fifth finals, are seen by many as dark horses to do well in Japan and Korea and that is reflected in their odds; they're ninth favourites to lift the Jules Rimet trophy.

Finnan will be all out to help prevent their progress to the second round by taking three points from them tomorrow though, as he is highly likely to start at right-back for Mick McCarthy's men.