Nigeria and West African neighbours, Cameroon are set to rekindle a long time football rivalry between them.
A game between the Super Eagles and Indomitable Lions is always one that draw so much momentum as fans are eager to see their team emerge victorious over the other.
Saturday presents another opportunity to witness a duel between the defending champions and the 2013 winners.
Both teams finished runner –up in their respective groups despite being rated to top, and low fire power is a constant variable in both camps with only two goals in each team’s kitty.
Cameroon have had the upper hand against Nigeria in AFCON history, although Nigeria has won 13 of 22 encounters in all with the fierce neighbours at senior level, and humiliated the Indomitable Lions in the race to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
It is also on record that the Lions have not beaten the Super Eagles in regulation time since 27th August 1989, when an under-strength Nigeria side lost 0-1 in Yaounde in an Italia 1990 World Cup qualifier –two weeks after Samuel Okwaraji died in another World Cup qualifier against Angola in Lagos.
In 1984, in an entertaining AFCON final in Abidjan, Cameroon came from one goal down to defeat Nigeria 3-1, exhibiting the quality and experience that had made them unbeaten at the FIFA World Cup in Spain two years earlier.
Four years later, at the same stage in Casablanca, the Lions were less convincing, as Nigeria lost following Mauritanian referee Idrissa Saar’s inexplicable decision to disallow a goal by Henry Nwosu in the first half, and then award a soft penalty to the Lions early in the second half.
Again in the final, in 2000, it was even more controversial. A 2-2 draw in regulation and extra time was followed by a penalty shootout, during which Tunisian referee Mourad Daami controversially ruled out the kick by Victor Ikpeba that television replays later showed to have crossed the line behind goalkeeper Alioum Boukar.
Nigeria got some revenge in 2004, when Jay Jay Okocha spearheaded a comeback in a quarter final tie in Monastir, Tunisia that ended 2-1 in favour of Nigeria, and after waiting 13 years, the Eagles dismantled reigning African champions Cameroon 4-0 in a World Cup qualifier in Uyo before a 1-1 draw in Yaounde days later.
Despite lifting a fifth African title in Gabon 30 months ago, Cameroon failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and were less than convincing in qualifying for this tournament.
On their part, Nigeria failed to reach the Round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup in Russia, and despite earning a ticket to Egypt with a match to spare, analysts have drawn daggers for Technical Adviser Gernot Rohr on perceived lack of bravery in selection and lack of clear playing pattern of his team.
While Nigeria’s senior team has not played many games on 6th July in the past, they pipped Tunisia 1-0 in a 1986 FIFA World Cup qualifier in Lagos on 6th July 1985. Other matches prosecuted in the month of July include a 1982 FIFA World Cup qualifying defeat of Tunisia (2-0) in Lagos on 12th July 1980; a 1994 FIFA World Cup qualifying defeat of Algeria (4-1) in Lagos on 13th July 1993; a 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifying defeat of Sudan (4-0) in Omdurman on 1st July 2001 and; a 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying defeat of Algeria (1-0) in Abuja on 3rd July 2004.
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