African nations have the ability to be a competitive force at next month's World Cup in Brazil despite not getting the respect they deserve, Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o said on Thursday.
African teams have often struggled at World Cups, with Cameroon becoming the first side from the continent to reach the quarter-finals in 1990.
Senegal and Ghana have since matched that feat and Eto'o believes the improving quality of players like Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure means the five African nations can make a major impact in Brazil.
“People think Africa are just there for the show,” Eto'o, who is in line to play in his fourth World Cup finals, told africanfootball.com.
“It is because football leaders don't respect us that our opponents don't respect us.
“Africa must fight to get as far as possible and why not win the World Cup.
“Look at the main European clubs where a lot of Africans are shining. Take Manchester City as an example, and look at the goals scored by Yaya Toure. If it was (Lionel) Messi, we will be talking about it for three years.”
Cameroon have been handed a difficult World Cup draw and will play Croatia, Mexico and hosts Brazil in Group A.
But Eto'o, who has made 116 appearances for Cameroon and scored 55 goals, is relishing the prospect of meeting Luiz Felipe Scolari's much-fancied Brazil side.
“I have never been afraid,” he added. “If you are scared, don't become a football player.
“It is going to be difficult, for sure, but in football everything is possible. We will have our chances, and we need to take them.”
The 33-year-old Eto'o looks to be on the hunt for a new club after his contract at Chelsea expired, but the former Barcelona striker has not lost his hunger for the game and is adamant he will be good enough to play at the next two World Cups.
“Some believe I am going to retire in the United States or in the Middle East,” added Eto'o, who scored 12 goals for Chelsea this season.
“I am going to go to this World Cup and to the next one when I will be 37. Some did it at 42, so I can still play in two more World Cups.”
Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Algeria and Ivory Coast are the five African teams who have qualified for this year's World Cup.