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Football

AFCON 2019: Nigeria, Cameroon renew rivalry

Nigeria finished second in Group B.

AFCON 2019

Nigeria vs Cameroon

Alexandria Stadium, Alexandria

Saturday, 06-07-2019 @7pm

It was once considered by many as the greatest rivalry on the African continent but as time wore on, both Nigeria and Cameroon deteriorated in terms of football might.

However, despite the fact they are no longer as strong as they used to be, matches between the two sides always tend to bring out the best out of them.

On Saturday evening, the two sides will open a new chapter in their rivalry as they vie for a place in the last 8 at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

Both teams have been goal-shy at the tournament so far and both teams have had to deal with disruptions over pay disputes.

The three-time AFCON champions have not been entirely convincing so far, and a shock 0-2 loss to Madagascar – a team 63 places below them in the FIFA rankings – ensured that the cracks were no longer being papered over following successive 1-0 triumphs over Burundi and Guinea.

Nigeria had to settle for second place behind tournament debutants Madagascar in Group B, leaving them with a difficult-looking route if they are to make it through to at least the semi-finals once again.

For Cameroon, they will feel that they should have topped their group after collecting four points from their opening two games, but their final match also cost them.

The defending champions went into their third group game sitting top of the standings, but they were held to a goalless draw by a stubborn Benin side that knew such a result would also seal their place in the knockout rounds.

A 2-0 triumph over Guinea-Bissau in their opener ultimately helped to ease their progress into the knockout stages as one of only four teams to progress without conceding a single goal.

The Indomitable Lions remain unbeaten in their seven outings so far this calendar year, but three of their last four have ended all square and their second-placed finish leaves them with a much more difficult route through the rest of the competition.

Cameroon are unbeaten in their last 7 games.

What they are saying

Gernot Rohr, Nigeria head coach 

“I’m scared of us committing individual errors and I hope we won’t have individual errors again that will cost us,” Rohr told a news conference.

“The match against Madagascar was a little deception, but we and the fans have learnt to be humble.

“The loss was a lesson we’ll all learn from. I trust my team. We’ll prove to Nigerian fans that the last game was just a mistake.

“There were changes in the team to play some players and keep them in the rhythm of the competition, but now the best team have to start against Cameroon to do their best and make Nigeria proud.”

Clarence Seedorf, Cameroon head coach

“It is not new to us, trying to win. It’s normal for us.

“Our team is good, yet Nigeria is also a big team. All we have to do is perform well and see where it leads us.”

Team News

Nigeria are expected to welcome some key first-team players back into their starting XI for this match after naming a second-string side against Madagascar. Alex Iwobi, Wilfred Ndidi and Kenneth Omeruo are among the names likely to return. Moses Simon should also regain his place, while Daniel Akpeyi will expect to be recalled in goal after keeping clean sheets in the opening two group games.

Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana is also yet to concede in this summer’s tournament and will retain the gloves for Cameroon. Seedorf made four changes for their final group game against Benin and could welcome Clinton N’Jie and Gaetan Bong back into this starting XI for this one. Georges Mandjeck missed the final group game altogether but will win his 50th cap if he returns on Saturday, while Paris Saint-Germain’s Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is expected to start behind the strikers.

Stats

Saturday’s tie will be the seventh AFCON encounter between Nigeria and Cameroon. Nigeria have won six of their last seven AFCON games, the only exception being against Madagascar in their most recent fixture. Cameroon are unbeaten in their last nine games in the AFCON, their joint-longest such streak in the tournament. Nigeria midfielder Peter Etebo is the player who registered the most recoveries in the group stage. Cameroon’s last eight AFCON goals have been scored from the 59th minute onwards.

The other game on Saturday

-Egypt vs South Africa @10pm

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