By Wale Mustapha
The Nigeria’s senior national team will be taking on their arch rivals in African football, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in the knockout stage of African Cup of Nations, AFCON on Saturday.
The encounter billed for the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan will see both teams take to tango for the record 26th times inna football event with Nigeria, having had upper hand in the previous 25 meetings.
The Super Eagles have won 12 of the face offs with five games ended in a draw and surrendered to the Lions on eight occasions.
Nigeria qualified from Group A, finishing second with five points behind Equatorial Guinea with three goals scored while they conceded one.
They have not been convincing with the attack despite boasting with rich talents in that department, including the reigning African Footballer of the Year, Victor Osimhen.
However, Jose Peseiro’s men have been decent in defense and will need to improve on their defensive abilities, there’s urgent need for the team to address their profligacies which may see them fall short against Cameroon.
The Super Eagles have upper hand to win the duel if the midfield can be as compact as they were against the Ivorians and Guinea-Bissau.
However, Peseiro need to device a means of boosting the midfield with a more creative midfielder other than Alex Iwobi.
Anyone among the wingers much be detailed to focus more on deliveries rather coming inside and look for goals, that way, the Cameroonian’s defense will be put under check throughout the match.
For the Indomitable Lions, their strength has been in the attack which is evident with number of goals scored so far.
Rigobert Song’s men have scored six goals, placing them among the highest scoring sides in the competition.
However, they fell short of good ratings with how they have protected their goal areas which has exposed them to leak in five.
How the Super Eagles’ defense will be under serious scrutiny against a free scoring side while Osimhen and flankers must be up and doing with conversion rates.
The West African team with more discipline in both defense and attack stand a good chance to claim the match points or sail through the quarterfinals.