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AFCON 2023: [PREVIEW] Nigeria Rekindle Fierce Rivalry With Cameroon

Nigeria head into the game after finishing second - the same point as Equatorial Guinea - in Group A of the AFCON.


Nigeria's players gather during the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2024 group A football match between Guinea-Bissau and Nigeria at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan on January 22, 2024. (
Nigeria’s players gather during the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2024 group A football match between Guinea-Bissau and Nigeria at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan on January 22, 2024. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

 

When the centre referee blows the whistle on Saturday night in Cote d’Ivoire, two of African football’s powerhouses will go head to head. Nigeria and Cameroon, with eight Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) titles between them, resume their rivalry in a Round of 16 game at the 2023 edition of the competition. 

Nigeria head into the game after finishing second – the same point as Equatorial Guinea – in Group A of the AFCON. Coach Jose Peseiro’s men won two matches including a victory over Cote d’Ivoire to reach this stage of the tournament.

Nigeria, Cameroon Form, Team News 

The Super Eagles have only conceded once so far and scored thrice but their performances, according to some fans, have not been convincing enough.

Although Nigeria’s qualification for the knockouts was in a more relaxed condition, their neighbours had to dig deeper to achieve the same.

The Indomitable Lions needed a late comeback to defeat Gambia in their last Group C game. That win gave them four points and a ticket to the Round of 16 in second place. They also conceded six goals in the group stage.

Cameroon will however be excited with the return of captain Vincent Aboubakar who has been out owing to injury. Nigeria on the other hand have good news too. Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho is back in action and midfielder Alhassan Yusuf as well as defender William Troost-Ekong are expected to be fit for the game.

READ ALSO: Song, Cameroon Hoping For Glory Days Against Nigeria At AFCON

Nigeria, Cameroon: A Head-To-Head Review

Despite the Super Eagles’ flapping and the Indomitable Lions’ unconvincing performances in Cote d’Ivoire, Saturday’s epic clash is a renewal of competition between two fierce rivals.

Three of Cameroon’s five AFCON titles were at the expense of Nigeria, the latest being in 2000 when the Central Africans took the crown in Lagos in what has remained a bitter taste in the mouth of Super Eagles fans.

Overall, the two sides have met seven times at the AFCON. Each team has won three and drawn one. But in their last two encounters at the football showpiece, Nigeria have emerged victors. In 2004, the Super Eagles overcame 2-1 and repeated the same in 2019. There – in Egypt – it was Cameroon slumping to their rivals in the Round of 16.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Battle Cameroon Amid Multiple Clashes Of AFCON Champions

‘A Mission’ To Win 

Nigeria's Portuguese coach Jose Peseiro gestures during a press conference at the Palais de la Culture in Abidjan on January 26, 2024 on the eve of the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) football match between Nigeria and Cameroon.
Nigeria’s Portuguese coach Jose Peseiro gestures during a press conference at the Palais de la Culture in Abidjan on January 26, 2024 on the eve of the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) football match between Nigeria and Cameroon. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

 

Going into the match, Nigeria’s Peseiro is aware of the history between both sides and is optimistic about winning the tie.

“It’s a difficult match. We are in the Round of 16 and playing against a great team. We don’t want to concede, we want to score a goal and maintain our lead,” he said in a pre-game match conference.

“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’s Rigobert Song, who took the decisive penalty kick when his country won the competition in front of Nigeria’s home crowd 24 years ago, only has one thing in mind – to “remain focussed” and “obtain a positive result”.

“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,” the former captain said.

“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”.

Nigeria, Cameroon AFCON 2023 Match Date, Time

The Super Eagles of Nigeria will take on Cameroon in the Round of 16 game on Saturday, January 27, 2024.

Time: 9:00 pm (WAT/Nigeria time).