Cameroon vs Nigeria:
Indomitable Lions of Cameroon and Super Eagles of Nigeria two of the AFCONS heavy weights go head-to-head for the seventh time in the AFCON today at the Alexandria Stadium for a place in the last eight.
Defending champions Cameroon finished as Group F runners-up behind Ghana after a win and two draws from their three group games.
Nigeria were tipped as favourites to top Group B, but the Super Eagles had to settle for second best behind surprise package Madagascar who stunned them 2-0 in their last group stage game. They narrowly beat Burundi and Guinea on identical and unconvincing 1-0 scores.
In their previous six meetings in the competition, Cameroon has won three times (the finals of 1984, 1988 and 2000), while Nigeria has won twice (third place classification game in 1992 and the quarterfinals in 2004), the other game was in the group stage of the 1988 tournament and it finished on a 1-1 draw.
Nigeria have won six of their last seven games in the AFCON, the only exception being against Madagascar in their most recent fixture.
Nigeria’s 23 year old Stoke City midfielder, Oghenekaro Peter Etebo is the player who registered the most recoveries in the group stage. He will have to be at his best against Cameroon’s Zambo Anguissa who has already walked away with the man of the match award twice in three games.
The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon are unbeaten in their last nine games in the AFCON (W4, D5).
Cameroon’s last eight AFCON goals have been scored from the 59th minute onwards, so Nigeria has to be very vigilant in the last half hour of this game.
Ahead of this epic AFCON clash of former champions with eight AFCON trophies between them (5 for Cameroon and three for Nigeria), both coaches have been sizing up their teams’ chances and what they need to improve on.
For Gernot Rohr of Nigeria, working on individual errors will be key to success.
“I hope we won’t have individual errors again that will cost us,” said Rohr.
He said it is important for them to make Nigerian fans understand that the disappointing loss to Madagascar was an accident, adding “but we and the fans have learned to be humble”.
“There were changes in the team to play some players and keep them in the rhythm of the competition, but now the best team has to start against Cameroon to make Nigeria proud,” he said.
Nigeria will be without injured inspirational captain John Obi Mikel.
Indomitable Lions coach Clarence Seedorf knows nothing short from the best will guarantee victory.
“It is not new to us, trying to win. It’s normal for us,” Seedorf told reporters.
“Our team is good, yet Nigeria is also a big team. All we have to do is perform well and see where it leads us,” he added.
The 43 year old former Dutch international has also urged Villarreal’s Karl Toko Ekambi who scored 18 goals in 43 appearances in all competitions including 10 league goals, to rediscover his club form.
“Karl and the other forwards have to improve a few details, be smarter and create more chances,” added the four-time UEFA Champions League winner with three different clubs.
“We pushed forward in each group game, we introduced attacking players off the bench, but we dare not try crazy stuff. We have to respect our opponents.”
This AFCON classic which has produced 15 different goal scorers (eight from Cameroon and seven from Nigeria), with 17 goals in six games, has been watched by a total of 167,206 spectators over the years. It will be decided by narrow margins. Though Cameroon are the current defending champions, the last time Nigeria played the completion in 2013, they walked away with the ultimate accolade.
Players to Watch
Eric Maxime Choupo-Moting (Cameroon)
Position: Forward Club: Paris Saint Germain Age: 30
The 30 year old PSG man has been leading Cameroon by example. He is yet to get off the mark in this tournament, he will be keen to do so against Nigeria and help Cameroon to secure a quarterfinals spot.
Samuel Chukwueze (Nigeria)
Position: Winger Club: Villarreal Age: 20
Nigeria’s 20 year old Villarreal wonder boy Samuel Chimerenka Chukwueze has shown flashes of what he can do in this tournament. On his day he is unplayable. He combines lightning pace and trickery to go pass his opponents with relative ease. If he is giving confidence he might be a key determining factor of the outcome of this game.