AFCON 2024: Nigeria predicted XI vs Cameroon – still no place for Iheanacho in Super Eagles line-up?

Nigeria take on Cameroon in a potentially epic Round of 16 matchup at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2024) on Saturday.

Having registered two wins and a draw in the group stages to stay unbeaten, the Super Eagles will be looking to extend that streak and it appears manager Jose Peseiro might opt for his ‘compact approach' to the make-or-mar tie inside the Félix Houphouët Boigny stadium on Saturday night.

The Super Eagles have struggled for goals in the competition, netting thrice despite heading into the knockout stage as the team with the most created clear-cut chances.

Peseiro will likely maintain a three-man defence supported by wingbacks against the Central Africans, and it's been gathered that Alex Iwobi and Ademola Lookman will return to the starting XI.

Kelechi Iheanacho, who has been impressive in training, is still being left out of the matchday squad.

With that in mind, here is how we predict the Super Eagles will line up against their old foes.

Stanley Nwabali

Conceded only a goal in three group-stage matches but has been impressive. Controls his area well, is solid aerially and very confident when playing with the team. It is expected that he will deliver a another good showing.

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William Troost-Ekong

Appeared to have knocked off the injury but will still face a late fitness test. Although he's been back in training for two days. His leadership quality on the field of play would be key to the team's success. He was on the score sheet when he captained his side past Ivory Coast to earn maximum points in the second group game.

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Calvin Bassey

He has proven to be the ‘go-to' guy in the starting XI since his excellent showing in the Ivorian game. His numbers from tackles, clearances and interceptions have been brilliant and he is a virtual shoo-in for the starting XI.

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Semi Ajayi

His recovery rate might be shaky at times, but he has been present in the line-up whenever the coach plays a three-man defence. His transitioning from attack to defence can be brilliant, coupled with his work rate, so he is expected to start.

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Zaidu Sanusi

Got the nod to start in the first two games before being left out of the third group game due to a knock he suffered in the game against Ivory Coast. He came on as a substitute against Guinea-Bissau. Sanusi hasn't particularly impressed but is expected to improve on his game when he gets the green to start against Cameroon.

Ola Aina

By far one of Nigeria's best players at AFCON 2024 so far, reads the ball so well, tackles cleanly, helps with the attack and recovers brilliantly. He has started in all the games for Nigeria, and has played on both sides of the defence, impressing the technical crew and the fans. He will surely be in the starting XI, barring any injuries.

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Alex Iwobi

His performance has been underwhelming at this tournament, and there were no surprises when he started from the bench in the game against Guinea-Bissau.

Without creativity in the midfield, he will come in and hope to provide that in this game. A bit of mental advantage could count as well as Iwobi was on the score sheet when Nigeria ran out 3-2 winners at this same stage at AFCON 2019 against the same opponents.

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Frank Onyeka

Has the weight of helping the defence and also launching attacks. He's been decent in the role, especially in the game against the host nation. He has started in all three group games and looks pretty solid. He will bring some steel in the midfield for the Super Eagles in this game.

Moses Simon

After missing out on starting against Ivory Coast, Simon is expected to remain in the starting XI, hoping to build on his good run against Guinea-Bissau that earned him a Man of the Match performance award. He was responsible for the only goal scored against the Djurtus in the last group game.

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Ademola Lookman

Has been decent for the Super Eagles overall and quite impressive at times. Should be back in the starting XI and Nigeria would trust his runs and crosses from the flanks whenever the team gets to attack. He usually creates big chances and has provided key passes in some games to put the team in this round. He might be eyeing getting on the score sheet in this one.

Victor Osimhen

He's the poster boy and one that the opponents will definitely have an eye on. His physique, pace and quick-thinking could be dangerous to any opposition. If properly serviced, the Napoli forward would be the key to the Super Eagles' progress in the competition.

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However, he missed out on the CAF combined XI in the group stage but will look to focus his attention on lifting the trophy rather than concentrate on scooping an individual award. He scored Nigeria's opening goal of the competition and has won the Man of the Match award once, against Ivory Coast.

Nigeria will take on Cameroon in the second Round of 16 match-up billed for Saturday night in Abidjan at the Felix Houphouet Boigny stadium from 9pm Nigerian time.

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Rotimi Akindele

Rotimi Akindele is a Sports Journalist with almost two decades' experience. He is a TV and radio host, commentator and writer who has covered major sporting events across the globe. Akindele's sports content has been listened to and read by a global audience. He is a well-known figure within Nigeria and the African football scene.