Nigeria and Cameroon will renew their Africa Cup of Nations rivalry in a round of 16 clash of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium on Saturday (today) in Ivory Coast.
The Eagles finished second behind Equatorial Guinea in Group A, while Rigobert Song’s men relied on a late 3-2 comeback win against The Gambia to progress behind Senegal in Group C.
The Eagles will be aiming to avoiding another round of 16 AFCON exit as they were dumped out at this stage by Tunisia at the last edition in Cameroon.
And in a bid to reach his first ever AFCON quarter-final, Jose Peseiro has hinted that he will maintain the 3-4-3 formation that saw his team edge past both AFCON hosts Ivory Coast and Guinea Bissau by the odd goal.
This system evolves to five defenders (three centre backs and two full backs) when the team are defending to the frustration of the other team.
Peseiro is also expected to keep faith with mostly the same players who have got the team to this stage of the competition. This means means that the trio William Troost-Ekong – if fit, Alex Iwobi and Ademola Lookman are expected to be recalled to the starting line-up for the encounter.
Speaking ahead of the game, Peseiro revealed that he won’t be changing his team against the Indomitable Lions.
“At least one goal, we’ll attack well and defend together, you do that and we win,” Peseiro said.
“I have studied many of the matches between both teams but tomorrow (today) our objective is to win the match.
“I will try to stick with what I have been doing and hope our players start scoring more goals soon. The statistics say we are the team with the most goalscoring opportunities, and for that I cannot change my team or formation.”
Peseiro’s side has struggled for goals at tournament, netting three times despite heading into the knockout stage as the competition’s top creators, fashioning more clear-cut chances (13) than the other 23 sides.
The Nigerian Football Federation Technical Director, Austin Eguavoen, who was on-field captain for the squad that won the 1994 AFCON in Tunisia, believes that the Eagles can soar over the Indomitable Lions if they play with flair and flexibility.
“Cameroon will always come with determination and grit,”Eguavoen said.
“The Eagles have to be even more prepared for them and deploy the greater flair and flexibility that we have.”
Meanwhile, Cameroon’s head coach, Rigobert Song, has revealed that he is aware of the threat Nigeria poses to his team’s chances of reaching the quarter-final and was swift to add that a comprehensive strategy is in place to curtail the fearsome attack of the Eagles led by Victor Osimhen.
Song, converted the decisive penalty in a shoot-out at the 2000 AFCON final in Nigeria after extra time scores were level at 2-2.
The former Liverpool, West Ham United and Galatasaray player acknowledged Osimhen’s prowess, hailing him as a “wonderful striker”.
However, he swiftly shifted the narrative, emphasising that the concentration of his team is not singularly on Osimhen but extends to the entire Nigerian squad.
“We have strong respect for Nigeria because they’re a very good side. “But we have our plans in place on how to approach this game.
“We respect him (Osimhen). He’s a wonderful striker. But our concentration is not just on him. It is on the entire team. We know what we need to do, and our strategy is in place. We know that our main focus is for Nigeria. They are a strong team. We are doing everything because we are here to win.”
With reports pointing to the return of Vincent Aboubakar from injury, Cameroon could be tempted to play the centre-forward from the start against the Eagles.