With internal wranglings still raging high in camp of the Super Eagles, the team have the hurdle of defending champions, Cameroon to cross at this year’s African Cup of Nations holding in Egypt.
After issues of match bonuses were partially laid to rest, the Eagles’ camp remain unsettled following an embarrassing 0-2 loss to debutants Madagascar, which led to burst ups between Leon Balogun, Odion Ighalo and Technical Adviser of the team Gernot Rohr.
However, Cameroun’s 0-0 draw with the Squirrels of Benin Republic coupled with Ghana’s Black Star’s 2-0 win over Guinea Bissau Tuesday, means the Indomitable Lions will play Nigeria’s Super Eagles in a crucial second round on Saturday.
The mouth-watering clash to take place in Alexandria Saturday July 6, was confirmed after Cameroun finished second in Group F behind Ghana who finished top of the group. Nigeria ended up in second place behind Madagascar in Group B which means they gave up the opportunity to play one of the best third placed teams.
Nigeria and Cameroun are age long rivals on the continent, with the Indomitable Lions usually coming out tops, especially when the stakes are high. Cameroun won three of the five AFCON titles after beating Nigeria in the final match. In 1984, the Lions triumphed 3-1, in 1988 it was 1-0 and in 2000, which was hosted in Nigeria, the Indomitable Lions broke Nigerian hearts after prevailing on penalties.
On the last occasion these African giants crossed paths, the Eagles trounced the freshly-crowned African champions 5-1 on aggregate over the course of a few days, with a 4-0 at home victory followed by a 1-1 draw in the Lions’ den.
However, despite being two of the biggest teams on the continent and pre-tournament favourites, both teams have had inconsistent campaigns so far. Nigeria started with two 1-0 victories over Burundi and Guinea before succumbing to a shock 2-0 defeat to debutants Madagascar.
Meanwhile, Cameroun started brightly with an impressive 2-0 victory against Guinea Bissau, before following up with two 0-0 draws against Ghana and Benin.
By coming second in their respective groups, Nigeria and Cameroun will have to take the tough route if they are to add to their combined haul of eight AFCON titles, with hosts and seven-time champions Egypt a probable opponent in the quarter-finals