By Brian Homewood
BRASILIA, June 21 (Reuters) - Brazil's perfect record against African teams at the World Cup suggests that Monday's Group A match against a demoralised, discredited Cameroon should be little more than a stroll in the park.
Goalless Cameroon have already been knocked out of the competition and would seem to be the perfect opponents for the stuttering hosts to find their rhythm and sort out their disjointed midfield.
Brazil have four points from their opening two games and need a draw to make the last 16, which should be a formality against the Indomitable Lions whose seventh World Cup campaign has fallen into disarray in sadly familiar style.
Cameroon's troubles began before they even left home when the players, having snubbed Prime Minister Philemon Yang, then refused to get on their expensively-chartered aircraft for Brazil in a protest over money.
After losing 1-0 to Mexico, they were eliminated in a shambolic 4-0 defeat to Croatia where Alex Song was sent off in the first half for striking an opponent and full back Benoit Assou-Ekotto appeared to headbutt team mate Benjamin Moukandjo near the end of the match.
Coach Volke Finke described their conduct as disgusting and the Cameroon federation are investigating. "The behaviour of some of them was not at all satisfying. It's unacceptable to see that kind of thing," said Finke.
Brazil have played six matches against African sides at the World Cup and won each time.
The first game was against the former Zaire at the 1974 edition, a game which became famous after a player from the African side broke from the defensive wall at a Brazil free kick, hoofed the ball away and was booked for his pains.
The was followed by a hard-fought 1-0 win over Algeria in 1986 and fairly unremarkable 3-0 wins over Cameroon in 1994, on the way to Brazil's fourth world title, and Morocco four years later.
Brazil also won 3-0 when they met Ghana in the round-of-16 in 2006 and comfortably saw off Ivory Coast 3-1 at the last World Cup.
Cameroon did, however, win their last meeting with Brazil when Samuel Eto'o scored the only goal in a match at the 2003 Confederations Cup.
Brazil have yet to find the free-flowing form they displayed on the way to winning last year's Confederations Cup and their 0-0 draw with Mexico on Tuesday ended a 10-match winning run.
Their midfield has been short on inspiration and failed to provide forward Neymar with the space and supply of passes he needs to torment defenders.
"When you compare the Confederations Cup with the World Cup it's not the same, all the teams are very prepared for the World Cup," said defender David Luiz. "The level today is very high.
"Many teams have studied us so it's harder now," added left back Marcelo. "We know we have to do what Felipao (coach Luiz Felipe Scolari) tells us but that's the World Cup, each game is harder than the one before." (Reporting By Brian Homewood; editing by Justin Palmer)