Nigeria and Cameroon will renew their rivalry again in the Round of 16 stage of the ongoing 34th Africa Cup of Nations in Côte d’Ivoire on Saturday.
Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions who denied the Super Eagles three AFCON titles by the championship game in 1984, 1988 and 2000, defeated The Gambia 3-2 in their last Group C clash last night to upstage Guinea to the runner up spot of the group.
Defending champions Senegal trounced Guinea 2-0 to finish on maximum nine points on top of the group.
Both Guinea and Cameroon finished on four points each but superior +5 goals advantage gave the Indomitable Lions the edge over the Syli Nacional.
Nigeria’s Super Eagles on Monday night similarly finished on same seven points with Equatorial Guinea but missed the top spot due to the superior goals difference of the team from Malabo.
The Syli Nacional however look certain to be among the best four third placed teams to progress to the Round of 16.
Defending champions Senegal’s Teranga Lions, winners of all group matches, will wait for the third best placed teams from Groups A, B or F to know who they
will play in the Round of 16.
Meanwhile, Super Eagles stand-in Captain, William Troost-Ekong has said he will be back in training later this week after a knee injury sidelined him out of the team’s final AFCON group game against Guinea Bissau.
The PAOK central defender suffered the injury in the Eagles 1-0 win over AFCON hosts Cote d’Ivoire.
Eagles who observed yesterday as rest day will resume training today ahead of their Saturday clash with the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon.
The team’s major injury doubt remains Antwerp midfielder Alhassan Yusuf, who has yet to return to full team training after the thigh injury that forced him out of the opening group game against Equatorial Guinea.
The 23-year-old box-to-box midfielder has himself said he hopes to be back for the knockout rounds of the competition after a scan showed the injury was not as serious as first feared.
Gambia 2-3 Cameroon
Guinea 0-2 Senegal
Namibia v Mali
S’Africa v Tunisia
Tanzania v DR Congo
Zambia v Morocco
FINAL GROUP C STANDItNG
TEAM P W D L GF GA GD Pts
Senegal 3. 3. 0 0. 8. 1. 7. 9
Cameroon 3. 1. 1. 1. 5. 6. -1. 4
Guinea. 3. 1. 1; 1. 2. 3. -1 4
Gambia 3. 0 0 3. 2. 7. -5. 0
Nigeria v Cameroon: Head-to-Head
Nigeria and Cameroon have eight Africa Cup of Nations titles between them, with the Super Eagles champions of Africa in 1980, 1994 and 2013, while the Lions triumphed in 1984, 1988, 2000, 2002 and 2017.
Incidentally, Nigeria was the fall-guy for Cameroon’s first three wins, with the first of those coming right inside the same Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny in Abidjan that will host Saturday night’s Round of 16 duel. The Lions won 3-1, despite Nigeria going in front after 10 minutes through Mudashiru Babatunde Lawal.
In 1988, Nigeria felt cheated when Mauritanian referee Idrissa Sarr disallowed a goal by Henry Nwosu in the first half at the Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca. Emmanuel Kunde scored from the spot in the second period to win it for the Lions.
In 2000, as co-hosts, Nigeria fell behind 0-2 in a memorable final with goals from Samuel Eto’o and Patrick Mboma, before Raphael Chukwu Ndukwe and Jay-Jay Okocha restored parity. The Lions went ahead to win 4-3 after a penalty shootout at the National Stadium, Lagos.
The Lions successfully defended their title in Mali two years later, defeating Senegal on penalties inside Bamako’s Stade March 26, and then came from behind to edge Egypt 2-1 in Libreville in 2017.
However, Nigerians will remember with a song in their heart the Super Eagles’ triumph over the Lions in the quarter-finals in Tunisia in 2004, and in the Round of 16 in Egypt in 2019, as well as the 4-0 win over the neighbours in a FIFA World Cup qualifying match in Uyo in 2017 that paved the way for Nigeria’s qualification for Russia 2018.
In Alexandria in 2019, also in the Round of 16, eventual tournament top scorer Odion Ighalo scored two of the goals in a 3-2 win, with midfielder Alex Iwobi netting the winner from a fabulous assist by Ighalo.
Saturday’s encounter will begin at 8pmCote d’Ivoire time (9pmNigeria time).