By Akinwale Kasali
The Super Eagles will meet the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in the Round of 16 knockout stage of the on- going 2019 African Cup if Nations championship in Egypt.
Having lost its leadership position in Group B to Madagascar, after the embarrassing 2-0 loss last Sunday, the Super Eagles settled for the second spot, pitching them against the five’ time Champions, Cameroon, who also came second behind the Black Stars of Ghana, having recorded five points from three matches.
The Indomitable Lions’ only victory in the competition came against Guinea-Bissau, which it defeated 2-0, before playing a goalless draw against Ghana and Benin Republic respectively.
The Cameroonians are seeking revenge against the Super Eagles which stopped it from qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Super Eagles defeated Cameroon 4-0 at the Akwa Ibom Stadium in Uyo, Nigeria, and recorded a 1-1 draw at Yaounde to shatter the dreams of the President Paul Biya’s country dream of getting to the world cup.
Now, under the tutelage of coach Clarence Seedorf, after parting ways with coach Paul Put who won the 2017 AFCON trophy for Cameroon, the Seedorf team are battle-ready to face the Super Eagles.
Coach Gernot Rohr have remained optimistic despite the abysmal performance of his team against Madagascar that his team will go far in the competition, that the defeat wasn’t a distraction, but a litmus test for his team.
“We are a bit disappointed that we failed to top the group, but the most important thing is that we qualified for the knockout stages.
“We will continue from there and make sure we get back to winning ways. There is no cause for alarm”, Rohr stated.
The last time the Super Eagles faced Cameroon at the AFCON Championship was in 2004 in Tunisia. The Super Eagles recorded a 2-1 victory courtesy of goals from Austin Okocha with a sublime freekick, and a solo run from John Utaka.
It will be recalled that the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon have stopped Nigeria from lifting the AFCON trophy thrice, with the last one coming on Nigeria’s home soil, at the National Stadium in Lagos, during the 2000 AFCON tournament co-hosted by Nigeria and Ghana.
Cameroon defeated Nigeria 4-3 on penalties to lift the trophy in front of the Nigeria fans.
Captain of the side in 2000, Sunday Oliseh, wept profusely, likewise other members of the team. Nigeria was denied lifting the trophy for the third time then, and it could have seen Nigeria winning the AFCON trophy for the second time on home soil, having won its maiden AFCON trophy in 1980 on home soil, but was denied by the Cameroonians.
Come Saturday 6th July, 2019 at the Alexandria Stadium in Egypt, the two top gladiators in African football will trade tackles.