The Super Eagles of Nigeria and the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon are set to lock horns in round 16 of the 2023 TotalEnergies CAF African Cup of Nations tourney.
Saturday night’s clash is another in a series of heated encounters between two of Africa’s football giants, Nigeria vs Cameroon, as they battle it out at the Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny in Abidjan, by 9 p.m. (Nigerian time).
The clash between the fierce football rivals, Nigeria vs Cameroon, dates back as far as 1984 when the Cameroonian team defeated Nigeria in the final at the same venue.
Cameroon clinched their first AFCON title (then called the Trophy of African Unity) after a 2-1 win over Nigeria.
Both teams, Nigeria vs Cameroon, have met 24 times in all competitions and a total of seven times in the AFCON, with both Nigeria and Cameroon sharing the spoils with three wins each, and a draw.
And since then, both nations have always tussled for victory in their mouth-watering encounters.
Road to Round of 16
Nigeria, a three-time AFCON champion, started their 2023 AFCON campaign with a 1-1 draw against Equatorial Guinea, before earning a 1-0 victory over the host nation, Ivory Coast.
The Eagles ended their group-stage matches with yet another unconvincing 1-0 win against Guinea-Bissau.
Quite frankly, the Eagles’ attack front hasn’t performed impressively of late, with head coach, Jose Peseiro, shuffling the front three across all three previous matches.
Nigeria has registered only three goals so far in the competition and conceded one, while the team and fans have relied on the 2023 African Best Player – Victor Osimhen to replicate his 2022/2023 form at club side, Napoli, when he bagged the Serie A’s highest goalscorer award with 26 goals.
The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon have also had their share of the cake as they are also underperformers in the tourney.
The five-time continental champions started their AFCON campaign in a 1-1 draw against Guinea.
Cameroon later fell to a 3-1 loss at the hands of ‘stronger’ Lions of Senegal.
Rigobert Song’s charges were able to snatch a late winner in their group C decider against The Gambia, courtesy of a stoppage-time winner of Christopher Wooh in the 91st minute.
The Cameroonian team has, however, received a booster on the return of 32-year-old experienced forward, Vincent Aboubakar, who missed the team’s first two games after suffering a hamstring injury.
Aboubakar’s last memory in his country’s shirt was his stunning stoppage-time winner against Brazil in the group stage of the 2022 FIFA World Cup
First-choice goalkeeper, Andre Onana, has once again come under scrutiny from fans over his poor performance after conceding three goals against Senegal.
Cameroon won three of its five AFCON titles at the expense of Nigeria, with the latest being in 2000, when the Central African nation won 4-3 on penalties shootout at the National Stadium in Lagos State.
However, Cameroon, like Nigeria, has been victorious in three encounters at the AFCON.
1984: Cameroon 3 – Nigeria 1
1988: Cameroon 1 – Nigeria 0
1992: Nigeria 2 – Cameroon 1
2000: Cameroon 4 – Nigeria 3 (penalties)
2004: Nigeria 2 – Cameroon 1
2019: Nigeria 3 – Cameroon 2
The winner of the Nigeria vs Cameroon clash will advance to the quarterfinals. Both teams are seeking to add to their AFCON trophy tallies, with Nigeria eyeing a 4th title and Cameroon looking for a 6th.
Super Eagles coach, Peseiro, said the Eagles don’t want a repeat of the 1984 history in Abidjan.
Peseiro stated, “We don’t want to concede; we want to score a goal and maintain our lead. We expect that history will not repeat itself at the Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny.
“Even if the statistics are not for us, we are going to play. It is a mission that has been entrusted to us, and we are going to try to carry it out. We want to win; we want to stay in this tournament until the end.”
Cameroon coach, Rigobert Song, who scored the decisive spot kick in the 2000 final, said his team is focused and ready.
“We know what we need to do and where we need to go. We have prepared and remain focused. We started slowly, moving up gradually. At this stage of the competition, I think there are no more things to look for.
“In three matches, I no longer have the right to calculate; I have to correct what didn’t work. I will do everything necessary to obtain a positive result,” Song stated.
An X user, @omorogiec, wrote, “Football is the only thing giving us Joy as Nigerians. Please make us proud guys! Do whatever you can to be victorious against the Cameroonians.”
Another user, @Shegegong, said, “Good luck to the super eagles of Nigeria today! Please improve your performance and always assist each other in front of goal.”
Mutiu Adepoju, @iammutiu8, wrote, “Good luck team. I have confidence in your ability to come out victorious.”
A user, @UzoigweR, said, “Win Win Win is all we want to hear this night. Confirm win. You guys should show the might you were known for “Super Eagles”
He added, “Let the weak be strong & play his fresh blood. Let the strong be agile too. I wish you guys the very best.”
Akintunde Dangote, @spykesonline, said, “Make sure you pass the ball to each other. Don’t be selfish to score the goal. If you see that the other teammate is in a good position to score please pass to him. Team unity is important. Don’t be selfish with pass and you will win.”