Africa Cup of Nations 2019: Nigeria vs Cameroon: Predicted XIs, team news, and more
Nigeria and Cameroon will go head-to-head in a clash of titans on Saturday evening in Alexandria.
Both teams have been very successful in past AFCON editions. The Super Eagles of Nigeria have won the coveted continental competition thrice, while the Indomitable Lions have taken the trophy home five times. Notably, the Cameroonians have also won AFCON back to back. In the last decade, each country has won the Cup once.
This clash in the round of 16 would mean that one of Africa's most successful teams will exit the competition early, while the other would continue for a place in the quarter-finals and perhaps a real opportunity to pick the trophy again.
While both teams finished poorly - second place - in their respective groups, they are still powerhouses in African football, and this clash has the potential to be one of the most exciting AFCON matches this edition.
A Preview of Nigeria
Ever since their 2013 AFCON participation when they were crowned champions, the Super Eagles have failed to qualify for the tournament. However, it is notable that when they do qualify, they dominate the competition and almost always reach a minimum of third place.
In fact, The Nigerian Super Eagles have reached the semi-finals 11 times out of their last 12 participations in AFCON. More notably, it has been well over 30 years since they failed to pass the group stage in the tournament. While their 2-0 loss to Madagascar - who are 63 positions below them in FIFA rankings - has seemingly reduced their standards, the Nigerians are still a serious force to be reckoned with on the continent.
The Super Eagles do not really have defensive problems. Having lost only twice since their group exit at the last World Cup in Russia, they have also kept six clean sheets in that same period.
The real problem on their hands is the impotent attacking force that has consistently shown that it cannot drive the team forward on its' own. In the last seven games, they have scored only six times. During the match against Madagascar, they had only one shot on target.
The defence may be able to hold off the Cameroonians, but without the attack playing its' part, the Super Eagles could easily find themselves on the way back to Nigeria. However, Gernot Rohr and the team will have every intention of getting into the next round. They go into the clash as strong favorites, but important changes must be made if they are to reach or exceed expectations.
Nigeria Team News
After an abysmal outing against Madagascar in their last game - in which they fielded a second-rate squad - Gernot Rohr will most likely make important changes to the starting XI.
Most notably, Arsenal's attacking midfielder Alex Iwobi and Leicester City's midfield dynamo Wilfred Ndidi will predictably start the game against Cameroon. Moses Simon would likely be fielded this time too.
In defence, Daniel Akpeyi - who has had two clean sheets in the competition - will likely be recalled between the sticks. Kenneth Omeruo could also make a starting appearance.
Nigeria predicted XI:
Akpeyi, Awaziem, Omeruo, Balogun, Aina, Etebo, Ndidi, Simon, Iwobi, Musa, Ighalo
A Preview of Cameroon
Cameroon is another powerhouse that, like Nigeria, has not reached expectations in this edition of AFCON. Cameroon failed to top their group when, all things being equal, they should have. They will certainly feel the drive to do much better in this clash, as will Nigeria who also failed to top their group.
Cameroon are the current champions of the competition and will want the opportunity to defend the title. A consecutive title win won't be new to the Indomitable Lions who achieved it in 2000 and 2002. While Nigeria will be chasing a fourth title, the Lions will be looking to get their sixth.
After their win over Guinea-Bissau in the first group games and a boring stalemate against Ghana in the second, Cameroon had every reason to beat a lower-placed Benin. However, the Squirrels of Benin held on strong, and Cameroon, with 72% possession, were unable to score a goal.
While playing a stalemate with Ghana is understandable, not being able to score against the Benin defence, despite having over 10 chances, is not. The Indomitable Lions will certainly face a difficult game against a strong Nigerian defence.
Another difficulty Cameroon will face is improving on the squad's clinical efforts in the final third. Their defence can hold its' own, and their midfield can control the game, but the team lacks clinical ability in front of goal. With lots of changes in the last four games, the Indomitable Lions have found the net only thrice.
If Clarence Seedorf is to take this team to the final game of this competition, the Indomitable Lions have to be better in front of goal.
Cameroon Team News
Andre Onana, Ajax's star goalkeeper, is yet to concede in this tournament and will certainly retain his position between the sticks for such an important match.
Seedorf would likely reintroduce N'Jie and Bong into the starting XI. PSG star Chuopo-Moting will also start behind the strike force.
Cameroon predicted XI:
Onana; Fai, Ngadeu-Ngadjui, Yaya, Oyongo; Zambo Anguissa, Mandjeck, N'Jie; Choupo-Moting; Bahoken, Toko Ekambi