Nairobi News


Cameroon star forward Vincent Aboubackar fit for Nigeria test

After miraculously surviving a humiliating early exit and booking a knockout stage ticket at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon’s bid for a sixth continental crown has been made harder following a round-of-16 pairing with archrivals, Nigeria.

From a disappointing start at the tournament, with a 1-1 draw against Guinea and 1-3 loss to defending champions Senegal, Cameroon beat Gambia 3-2 in their last Group C game on Tuesday to garner four points and finish second to Senegal who defeated Guinea 2-0 in the group’s other game.

Though on level points with Guinea, five times African champions, the Indomitable Lions had a superior goal difference to the Syli National.

Earlier on Monday, three times African champions, the Super Eagles of Nigeria qualified for the knockout stage of the competition after emerging second in Group A.

They drew their tournament opener against giant-killers Equatorial Guinea, held hosts Cote d’Ivoire 1-0 in their second outing, and a 1-0 defeat of Guinea Bissau brought them to seven points, just like first-placed Equatorial Guinea who had more goals.

The round of 16 match between the Indomitable Lions and the Super Eagles this Saturday, January 27, 2023, at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan will be the 26th meeting between both teams across all competitions including the AFCON.

Cameroon stopped Nigeria from winning a third AFCON title in front of an expectant home crowd in 2000. The Super Eagles on their part shattered Cameroon’s dream of a third consecutive AFCON trophy when they defeated the Indomitable Lions 2-1 in Round of 16 of the 2004 tournament in Tunisia.

Fresh from winning a fifth crown in 2017, Cameroon had hoped for a second consecutive win in 2019 (like in 2000 and 2002) but they were knocked out 3-2 by Nigeria in the Round of 16 in Egypt.

In the Cameroon capital Yaounde, the last-16 pairing between the two neigbouring countries and long-term soccer foes is the talk of the town. Soccer lovers, fans of the Indomitable Lions, football writers, and commentators have since Tuesday been talking about the game.

“I see Cameroon emerging victorious,” said Patrick Mua, Coordinator of The Guardian Post Sports newspaper. “The Nigeria I have watched played at the group stage of this competition doesn’t pose a threat to Cameroon according to my reading,” Mua added.

In its Thursday, January 25 edition, The Voice newspaper describes the match as another epic showdown between both teams.

“The Match between Cameroon and Nigeria on Saturday would be a clash of titans, an encounter between old foes. It would be a repeat of the 2019 AFCON in Egypt when the Indomitable Lions were knocked out in the 16th Finals by the Super Eagles of Nigeria. But the Lions this time around are wounded and ready to devour the eagles,” said Theodore Ndze co-publisher of The Voice.

For the Lions to devour the Eagles as Ndze says, the technical bench has work to do, according to Mua.

“All Cameroon needs is to work on its defensive tactics. Coach Song also needs to organise the midfield. If the technical crew works on those lapses, we will beat Nigeria without stress,” Mua said further.

A sports journalist and supporter of the Indomitable Lions, Etienne Mainimo sees a three-decade history repeating itself come Saturday.

“This game is more special because it will be played in the same stadium where Cameroon beat Nigeria 3-1 in 1984 to lift their first continental trophy,” Mainimo, a journalist with The Post newspaper said suggesting a repeat of the score line.

Cameroon goes to the match boosted with the return to team training of AFCON 2021 Golden Boot winner and captain Aboubakar Vincent and winger Clinton Njie. Aboubakar got injured during a training session in Yamoussoukro before the official opening of the tournament.

In their last encounter in 2019 when Nigeria defeated Cameroon 3-2, Njie Clinton scored one of the two goals of the Indomitable Lions. The return of the duo will no doubt add firepower to the attacking machinery of the Indomitable Lions.

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