Saturday night promises to be exciting as Nigeria and Cameroon take to the field at the Last 16 stage of this year’s AFCON in Egypt, with the Alexandria Stadium set to host the clash. Nigeria finished second in Group B behind Madagascar, earning six points in the three outings and winning twice despite only scoring two goals. Cameroon also came second from the top, although they were rather unfortunate to do so having gotten just as many points as Ghana above them. Two low scoring sides with everything to play for should result in a very interesting ninety minutes – or more.
Nigeria’s AFCON campaign has gone more or less how they would have desired, however the fact that Madagascar finished above them will hurt. In the opener against Burundi, Nigeria defeated their opponents by a solitary goal from former Watford attacker Odion Ighalo thirteen minutes from the end, assisted by Ola Aina. A tougher matchup against Guinea followed that victory and again, Nigeria left it late. Kenneth Omeruo bagged in the seventy-third minute to put his team 1-0 up which led to Guinea making three substitutions, but to no avail. That win meant the Black Stars could end the group as leaders if they earned another win over Madagascar, though those dreams were shattered after thirteen minutes when Lalaina Nomenjanahary netted the first goal. At half time Ndidi replaced John Ogue in the centre of the park, although his inclusion did nothing to prevent Carolus Andriamahatsinoro from grabbing his nation’s second of the day and virtually ensuring top spot was Madagascar’s. Nigeria now have the difficult task of beating a strong Cameroon side, but they’ll be quietly confident that there’s enough quality in the ranks to do so.
Cameroon don’t know what it’s like to taste defeat in the AFCON 2019, winning on one occasion and drawing twice thus far. Yaya Banana provided his team with a fantastic platform from which they could begin their journey in the tournament by scoring the opening goal against Guinea-Bissau, and Stephane Bahoken added to their tally three minutes later. Fans may have been expecting more goals over the course of the next two fixtures, but they were let down when both Ghana and Benin held Clarence Seedorf’s men to goalless stalemates. Cameroon could have quite easily been on the wrong end of the scoreline against Ghana, but with 72% possession versus Benin there is no question that the players can’t have any excuses as to why they didn’t create more opportunities. On a positive note, Cameroon are yet to concede a goal in the competition so their defence is certainly in good form, but their attackers need to follow suit.
Nigeria are likely to be without Jamilu Collins due to injury, although he is expected to recover in time for the quarter finals if they progress. Manager Gernot Rohr made the mistake of changing the tactics of a winning team when he switched from a 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3 against Madagascar, so we expect that he’ll revert to the original formula here. Daniel Akpeyi should remain as number one, with Kenneth Omeruo and Chidozie Awaziem in front of him. In midfield, Leicester man Wilfred Ndidi will partner Oghenekaro Etebo to protect the back line, while Moses Simon, Ahmed Musa and Europa League final scorer Alex Iwobi make up a three man attacking midfield. Supporters will hope Ighalo brought his shooting boots as he looks to get amongst the goals for the first time since the tournament’s beginning.
Cameroon should have a full squad available for selection on Saturday. It’s difficult to predict exactly how they’ll line up as Seedorf has changed the formation in every game up to now, utilizing 4-3-3, 3-4-3 and 4-3-1-2. Only one of these line ups has seen Cameroon come out as the winning side though, and that’s the 4-3-3 against Guinea-Bissau. The performances in 3-4-3 and 4-3-1-2 were not particularly extravagant, so we’re looking to that win in order to get an idea of how they might start. Banana and Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui will sit at the heart of defence behind a three man midfield of Anguissa, Mandjeck and Sutchuin. Up front, we think Bassogog, Ekambi and PSG forward Eric Choupo-Moting will get starts.
Cameroon’s defensive line has been fantastic throughout the AFCON so far, and we can see them having another good display in this one. Should the attackers recapture the scoring spirit they possessed at the very start of the tournament, Cameroon will be too much for Nigeria and a clean sheet is likely, along with a victory for Seedorf’s team. Skybet have Cameroon to win to nil at 10/3. By the same token, Cameroon’s games have been tight and when they did win, it was only by two goals. Nigeria’s sole loss at the hands of Madagascar was also by two goals, and Skybet have Cameroon to win by exactly two goals at 10/1. Skybet are also pricing Cameroon at 2/1 to come out on top overall in the affair, which is a solid offer considering the statistics.