Soccer-World-Early innovator Finke relishing World Cup challenge

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By Mark Gleeson CAPE TOWN, April 28 (Reuters) - Volker Finke was one of the first Bundesliga coaches to use African players on a regular basis in his Freiburg team and now, in the twilight of his career, he finds himself World Cup-bound with Cameroon. The 66-year-old was appointed coach last June and the team have won just two of seven matches. It has been a difficult tenure marked by resistance to his appointment and mounting discontent after a 5-1 loss to Portugal in a friendly in March. But that is nothing compared to what is coming up with group phase matches against hosts Brazil, Croatia and Mexico in June. Finke has been around too long to be too fazed and is relishing his World Cup challenge. As he told Reuters recently: "The match against the hosts might be the easiest, however, because as a coach you don't need to deliver any motivation because for any player to get a chance to play against Brazil is a real highlight in their career. "We know that, at most, you might work in football for 20 to 30 years but there will never be more than one chance in a career to participate in a World Cup in Brazil. "It is a really good adventure, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." Navigating a difficult political terrain in Cameroon might prove harder for the German on his second foreign assignment after 16 years at Freiburg, where his side were promoted and relegated three times in the longest single coaching spell in German professional football. In Germany he won admiration for his tactical innovation and was frequently sought out for his philosophical views on the sport. Freiburg used more African players than any other team. Finke, who did not have a professional playing career, worked at Urawa Red Diamonds in Japan in 2009-10, and was later technical director and, briefly, interim coach at Cologne before accepting the assignment in Cameroon. He has a two-year contract until June 2015, which also takes in the next African Nations Cup finals. (Editing by Robert Woodward and Mike Collett)

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