NIGERIA’S Super Eagles have begun training for Saturday’s clash against old rivals the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in the second round of the ongoing African Cup of Nations which will take place at the Alexandria Stadium.
Yesterday, Cameroon, currently coached by Dutch legends Clarence Seedorf and Patrick Kliuvert, played a 0-0 draw with the Squirrels of Benin in their final Group F game. This led to the Indomitable Lions finishing second behind Ghana and with the Eagles having finished second behind Madagascar in Group B, the two teams will now clash in the Round of 16.
Despite winning the tournament eight times between them and being regular World Cup attendants, neither side has been impressive in the ongoing tournament. Cameroon have recorded one win and two draws from their three group games, while Nigeria suffered a humiliating 0-2 loss to Madagascar in its final group game.
However, with the tournament now entering the knock-out phase, the big teams are expected to raise their game. None of the other potential champions like Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Mali, Ghana or Senegal have been scintillating either, so no team is a firm favourite to lift the trophy.
Of late, Nigeria has had the better of Cameroon in recent meetings as the Eagles defeated the Lions 2-1 in their last clash in the Nations Cup with Jay-Jay Okocha and John Utaka scoring in a quarter final victory in Tunisia 2004. In 2017, the Eagles also beat Cameroon 4-0 in a World Cup qualifier in Uyo and went on to draw 1-1 in the return leg in Yaoundé.
Prior to that, the Eagles beat Cameroon 3-0 in a friendly game played in Belgium in 2015, thanks to goals from Efe Ambrose, Moses Simon and Odion Ighalo. Prior to the recent turnaround in fortunes, Cameroon had the edge over Nigeria, with the Lions beating the Eagles in the final of the 1984, 1988 and 2000 African Cup of Nations.
Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr is under pressure to win following the team’s poor showing against Madagascar and will likely be making several key changes. Fortunately, regular leftback Jamiu Collins has returned from injury and the coach is under pressure to field goalscorers Henry Onyekuru and Victor Osimhem.