The Round of 16 pairings of the Africa Cup of Nations have thrown up intriguing fixtures. Most of the eight matches are potentially explosive, rubbishing the initial permutations of an easy pairing for Nigeria if the team had topped Group B.
Madagascar will now face DR Congo, team that cannot be easily wished away. A third placed Guinea in Nigeria’s group will also face a tough opposition Algeria, pointing to the fact that Round of 16 does not offer any easy match.
Nigeria are paired with their familiar opponents, Cameroon in what is potentially an explosive encounter especially if previous encounters are to be considered.
As usual, www.sportsvillagesquare.com takes an insightful look at the match and comes out with the following points of interest.
Sports Village Square records that this will be Nigeria’s 90 match in Africa Cup of Nations’ history since the 6-3 loss to United Arab Republic, now Egypt on 24 November 1963 in Kumasi, Ghana.
The Saturday encounter marks Cameroon’s 84th match, even though the country have made two more appearances than Nigeria’s 18th at the Egypt 2019 edition.
Both Nigeria and Cameroon led their respective Egypt 2019 groups until their last matches. While Nigeria surrendered Group B leadership to Madagascar on Sunday, Cameroon on Tuesday also failed to live up to expectations and were held to a goalless draw by lower rated Benin, thus surrendering Group F leadership to rivals, Ghana.
Nigeria and Cameroon were involved in payment disputes in the current championship. Cameroon players initially refused to board their flight to Egypt, insisting on increase in allowances. Nigerian players initially boycotted training, asking that their allowances for the win against Burundi be paid.
The two teams have experienced goal drought, scoring just two goals each, in three matches. Nigeria beat Burundi and Guinea 1-0 respectively while Cameroon’s only goals in the tournament were scored in the 2-0 defeat of Guinea Bissau.
Nigeria’s goalkeeper in the match with Madagascar, Ikechukwu Ezenwa made his Super Eagles’ debut in a World Cup qualifying match with Cameroon in September 2017.
Nigeria’s legendary Muda Lawal scored the last of his 11 goals for Nigeria in a match with Cameroon in the final match of the 1984 Africa Cup of Nations.
It is 28 years since Cameroon ever beat Nigeria in regulation time. It was a World Cup qualifying match for Italia ’90 – a tie in which Nigeria needed just a draw to advance to the last straight knockout qualifying duel.
Nigeria’s legendary goalkeeper, Emmanuel Okala last featured for Nigeria’s national team in a match with Cameroon on February 2, 1980 at the then Liberty Stadium, Ibadan. The match ended goalless.
The Lekan Salami Stadium, Ibadan hosted its first international match when Nigeria beat Cameroon 2-0 on June 10, 1989 in a World Cup qualifying encounter.
Cameroon’s first three in five titles of the Africa Cup of Nations were achieved beating Nigeria in 1984, 1988 and 2000.
Cameroon has never beaten Nigeria in any other Africa Cup of Nations’ duel apart from the final match. There are three instances; in 1988, both played 1-1 in group match, in 1992 Nigeria beat Cameroon 2-1 in the classification match while also achieving the same result at the quarterfinals of the 2004 edition.
Nigeria beat Cameroon 2-1, the last time they met in the Africa Cup if Nations in 2004
Nigeria’s Josiah Dombraiye was the first scorer at Cameroon’s Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium, Yaoundé when the arena was commissioned on February 13, 1972. Nigeria won 2-1, courtesy of the brace by Dombraiye.
Cameroon have failed to beat Nigeria in the last five consecutive confrontations starting from a 3-0 loss at the 2003 LG Cup in Lagos, 2-1 loss at Tunisia 2004 Africa Cup of Nations, 3-0 loss in a friendly match at Vise, Belgium in October 2015, a humiliating 4-0 loss to Super Eagles and a 1-1 draw in Yaoundé in 2017.
The most pronounced of Nigeria versus Cameroon encounters is the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations’ final match, which ended in penalty shootout that Nigeria controversially lost. The turning point was Victor Ikpeba’s penalty kick, which was thought not to have crossed the goal line. Several television clips showed it was a goal. Even Ikpeba’s reaction also added to the drama as he held his hands on his head in anguish after the kick. If VAR had been in existence then, the final outcome of the 2000 final could have been different.
Samuel Okwaraji’s only goal for Nigeria was scored against Cameroon on March 17, 1988 in Rabat Morocco. It was also Nigeria’s joint fastest Africa Cup of Nations goal, coming in the second minute, just like that of Segun Odegbami against Algeria in 1980.
Saturday’s match will be the 23rd clash of both Nigeria and Cameroon. Sports Village Square can confirm that in spite of the intimidating stature of the Indomitable Lions, results have always been in Nigeria’s favour. In 22 matches, Nigeria won 13 times as against three clear victories by Cameroon. The remaining sixwere drawn – including the February 13, 2000 Africa Cup final in which penalty kicks were used as tie-breaker.