The race to get to Russia 2018 will enter another phase this Friday for the Super Eagles as they take on the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in the first of their two games in the qualifying series.
Though the general feeling is that Nigeria and Cameroon are fierce rivals as far as football is concerned in Africa, statistics and head-to-head record suggest otherwise.
Edge for Nigeria
Going into Friday’s game at the Nest of Champions in Uyo, the Super Eagles will be aiming to achieve a 12th triumph over the Lions of Cameroon.
In 19 previous encounters, Nigeria have been winners 11 times, with Cameroon winning four times and four matches were drawn.
It is, however, important to note that of these games, three happened to be the final matches of the Africa Cup of Nations (all won by Cameroon, including a nail –biting penalty shoot-out session in Lagos in February 2000.
Indeed, both Nigeria and Cameroon are not treating the upcoming world cup qualifiers with kid gloves.
The President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, has charged the Super Eagles to commit all they’ve got into Friday’s crucial clash against the Lions of Cameroon in Uyo.
Nigeria with six points in the kitty are four points better than second –placed Cameroon, who arrive with the tag of African champions and believe their physique and aggressive play would prove a mountain to surmount for the rampaging Eagles.
Having disappointed many in their last outing against South Africa, Pinnick has charged the Eagles to approach the game with a never-say-die mentality at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium.
“This is a very crucial match and the players know so. The Cameroonians are not coming here to simply appraise the serenity and beauty of the city of Uyo; they are coming to contest the three points.
“The Super Eagles must throw everything – their body, heart and spirit – into the game. Those three points are very important to our FIFA World Cup qualification campaign, and I am confident we will get them.”
The Eagles’ Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr, has already announced that the former junior international, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, who penultimate weekend led the Nigerian team as captain to qualify for next year’s African Nations Championship, will start in goal. Two other former junior internationals Dele Ajiboye and Dele Alampasu are also available in the goalkeeping department.
The team has Mikel Obi, Victor Moses (both returning after missing the Cup of Nations qualifier against South Africa in June), Oghenekaro Etebo and John Ogu (midfield), Odion Ighalo, Anthony Nwakaeme and Aaron Samuel (frontline). Rohr also has the personnel with the physique and stubborn mentality to match the Lions and even more.
Germany -based Leon Balogun, who also missed the clash with South Africa, returns and is likely to pair Olympic bronze medallist William Ekong in central defence, with another Olympic bronze medallist Abdullahi Shehu, as well as Elderson Echiejile, Tyronne Ebuehi, Uche Agbo and Chidozie Awaziem also available for Rohr in the rearguard sector.
England –based Wilfred Ndidi and Turkey–based duo of Ogenyi Onazi and Mikel Agu are also available in midfield, with Ahmed Musa, Moses Simon and Kelechi Iheanacho able to offer pace and invention in the attack.
Friday’s match will kick off at 5 p. m. and PREMIUM TIMES will serve you Live Updates.
Meanwhile, both teams will clash again at the Stade Omnisports Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaounde on Monday, starting from 6 p.m.
HEAD-TO-HEAD Last Five Games Nigeria vs Cameroon
7 Aug 1997: Cameroon 0 Nigeria 1 – Tunis (LG Cup)
13 Feb 2000: Nigeria 2 Cameroon 2 (3-4 penalties) – Lagos (ACN Final)
1 Jun 2003: Nigeria 3 Cameroon 0 – Lagos (LG Cup)
8 Feb 2004: Cameroon 1 Nigeria 2 – Monastir (ACN – group phase)
11 Oct 2015: Nigeria 3 Cameroon 0 – Brussels (Friendly)