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AFCON 2023: Super Eagles vow to ‘do it again’ against Cameroon

 

The Super Eagles have vowed to recreate their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Round of 16 defeat of Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in Alexandria, when both teams clash in Abidjan on Saturday at the same stage in the ongoing 34th edition of the competition.

 

That day, at the Alexandria Stadium in Egypt, the Eagles came from 1-2 down to decision the Cup holders 3-2 and reach the quarter-finals. Odion Ighalo scored two of the goals, with Alex Iwobi, who is here in Abidjan and is expected to play a determining role on Saturday, netting the winner. Captain Ahmed Musa, defenders William Ekong, Kenneth Omeruo, Ola Aina and Chidozie Awaziem, and forward Moses Simon, who are also in Abidjan, were involved in that encounter in North Africa.

 

“That game was a tough duel and brought out the best in us, especially when we went 1-2 down despite scoring first. In the dressing room, we told ourselves that we could not allow that to happen. We played for one another and we were happy to win at the end.

 

“Of course, we know the match on Saturday will be even tougher. The Cameroonians will be determined not to lose again, but we will give our very best and go for a win. We can do it again. Our aspiration is to win the trophy and nothing has changed that,” Musa said on Friday.

 

Nigerian legends Olusegun Odegbami, Jay Jay Okocha, Augustine Eguavoen, Daniel Amokachi and Garba Lawal are among dozens of Nigerian VIPs who travelled from Nigeria to Abidjan to support the team, and who will join thousands of Cote d’Ivoire-based Nigerians to cheer the Eagles on Saturday.

 

NFF Technical Director Eguavoen, who was on-field captain for the squad that won in Tunisia in 1994, said: “Cameroon will always come with determination and grit. We have to be even more prepared for them and deploy the greater flair and flexibility that we have.”

 

Odegbami played in the 1976 and 1978 tournaments as well as being a major force in the Cup-winning 1980 squad. Okocha scored seven goals in the Africa Cup of Nations and played in five tournaments (1994, 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006), while Amokachi was also in the 1994 Cup-winning squad. Lawal played in the 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006 finals.

 

Midfielder Alhassan Yusuf, injured in the physically-demanding contest with Equatorial Guinea on Day 2 of the competition, is back to training, and could be thrown into the fray to provide steel alongside Frank Onyeka, while Alex Iwobi lubricates things in the middle of the park.

 

Coach José Peseiro may opt for Ola Aina, Chidozie Awaziem, William Ekong, Calvin Bassey and Zaidu Sanusi at the rear, and there is the possibility of Kelechi Iheanacho playing some part with Victor Osimhen at the fore.

 

Thenff.com here concludes the cursory look at the SEVEN previous clashes between Nigeria and Cameroon at the AFCON:

 

5) 2000 AFCON FINAL MATCH: National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos

 

Coach Johannes Bonfrere opted to start without his two sensations, Julius Aghahowa and Tijani Babangida. The latter had netted the two goals against South Africa in the semi-finals, while Aghahowa was the hero of an unexpectedly-tough quarter-final duel with Senegal. Instead, Raphael Ndukwe started alongside Finidi George and Nwankwo Kanu.

 

In front of the Eagles’ 60,000 fans, the Lions roared to a 2-0 lead within the half-hour, after Samuel Eto’o found himself in front of Ike Shorounmu from a free-kick on the right and Patrick Mboma also found himself alone with the goalkeeper and simply sent the ball through his legs. Cameroon could have been 3-0 up minutes later when Furo Iyenemi headed against the bar while trying to clear, and Shorounmu also left his line to clear desperately.

 

The Eagles stemmed the tide and came into their own, with Ndukwe, playing his first match of the competition, threading the ball into the net to reduce the deficit before the break. Early in the second half, Okocha released a left-footed rocket that Alioum Boukar had no answer to, and the game flowed from end-to-end with Geremi Njitap, Lauren Etame Mayer, Salomon Olembe, Marc-Vivien Foe, Pierre Wome and Rigobert Song all involved against Okocha, Kanu, George, Taribo West, Mutiu Adepoju and substitutes Aghahowa, Babangida and Victor Ikpeba. It ended in a penalty shootout, with Kanu and Ikpeba failing to score while Foe was the only one who failed to convert for the Lions. A third triumph for the Indomitable Lions.

 

6) 2004 AFCON Q-FINAL MATCH: Stade Mustapha Ben Jannet, Monastir

 

It was a bright, sunny day in the Tunisian city of Monastir. Nigeria’s campaign got off on the wrong footing – a 0-1 loss to Morocco in their first match followed, two days later, by Coach Christian Chukwu expelling three key members of the team from their Riyat Palace Hotel for indiscretion. However, the Eagles pumped South Africa 4-0 and then defeated Benin Republic in Sfax to reach the knockout stage.

 

The Lions were ‘double defending champions’ having won in Ghana-Nigeria 2000 and in Mali 2002. Their jerseys hugged them tightly and physically intimidated opponents, and the CAF President was a Cameroonian!

 

Hayatou led a large delegation to the VIP stand, and the Cameroonian fans unfurled a mammoth banner in the stands: EAGLES FOR DINNER. Swiftly, they made their intentions known, Samuel Eto’o slotting past Vincent Enyeama after Isaac Okoronkwo missed his clearance.

 

Can anything go wrong? It did, as Nigeria won a free-kick just before the break and Idris Carlos Kameni could only watch Jay Jay Okocha’s effort nestle firmly in the net. Both teams fought fiercely in a supercharged second period, and as the Lions attacked, the ball came to Nwankwo Kanu whose visionary pass was neatly converted by John Utaka.

 

The Cup holders had been booted out!

 

7) 2019 AFCON ROUND OF 16 MATCH: Alexandria Stadium, Alexandria

 

The Super Eagles were low in spirit after a shock 0-2 defeat by minnows Madagascar, and were in the Round of 16 because they had picked maximum points off Burundi and Guinea. Africa Cup of Nations’ heroes Samuel Eto’o and Nwankwo Kanu were in the stands to support their different teams. Once Botswanan referee Joshua Bondo got the match underway, lethargy disappeared.

 

Odion Ighalo, who would emerge tournament top scorer, netted for the Super Eagles midway into the first half after a cut-back in the box by Ahmed Musa. Cameroon replied four minutes to the break through Stephen Bahoken, who got the better of Kenneth Omeruo, and there was still time for Clinton N’jie to give them the lead as he slalomed through the Nigerian defence and shot past Daniel Akpeyi.

 

Cameroon had far more possession of the ball with Christian Bassogog, Collins, Bahoken and captain Choupo-Moting working hard, but they met a brick wall each time they launched an onslaught. Musa smartly chested the ball for Ighalo from a Chidozie Awaziem cross 18 minutes into the second half, and the poacher booted it past Andre Onana into the net for Nigeria’s equalizer.

 

The Eagles were in the ascendancy and would not allow the euphoria to fade. Three minutes later, Ola Aina found Ighalo close to the opposition box, and the striker threaded the ball through the legs of Michael Ngadeu to Iwobi, who finished with aplomb. Nigeria had once again booted out the Cup holders!

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