Nigeria vs Cameroon: Where the AFCON 2024 game was won and lost

The Super Eagles were at their flowing best against Cameroon, especially in the first half, and they produced the quality moments in the game and in the end, ran out comfortable winners in Abidjan.

A brace from Ademola Lookman saw the Super Eagles bring smiles to the faces of their demanding fans.

Jose Peseiro's side needed this victory badly, especially at the back of their listless performances lately.

Peseiro's Nigeria game plan was spot on vs Cameroon

Heading into the game, the Super Eagles needed to show their teeth and claws from the off. But their manager Peseiro urged caution from his side; he wanted a cool, calm calculated display all round, which would contrast his recent approach to games.

Fully aware of Cameroon's attacking threat, the Super Eagles held back on going for the jugular. Instead, thanks to Peseiro, they bided their time until Lookman gave his side the lead in the 36th minute.

The fans had been growing restless until the deadlock was broken, but containing the five-time African champions and coming alive later on was always in his script, and from the key moment, they controlled the game.

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With the amount of calumny the Portuguese manager has been entreated to, Peseiro deserves huge credit for an impressive result on a big stage.

Osimhen was unplayable

From the off, Osimhen was on a mission. He had a point to prove. His inability to convince in attack for the Super Eagles in the ongoing AFCON 2024 had led to criticism from a section of the Super Eagles fans.

Here, though, the Napoli striker looked like a man reborn. His movement struck fear into the hulking Cameroon centre-backs Christopher Wooh, Jean-Charles Castelletto and Oumar Gonzalez.

The way to take defenders out of their comfort zone is to threaten them in different ways. By pulling in both directions, he completely unbalanced Cameroon. 

Though Osimhen did not score, he made an assist, as his press made Nigeria’s first goal. His duels against the Cameroonian defenders ensured they were jittery all night. Osimhen was a handful, which created the gaps that Lookman exploited to score.

The Cameroonian defence must have felt they were in a nightmare at some points. This performance will be one to show to everyone who thinks Osimhen is not as good as the Nigerian fans believe he is.

A special night indeed!

Super Eagles keep their shape without the ball

Whereas Nigeria got back into a disciplined shape very quickly, and so made it difficult for Rigobert Song's side to play through, Cameroon were remarkably naive in their set-up when in possession.

As such, they lacked structure whenever the ball was turned over, which was a lot of times, especially in the first half. This made Nigeria's counters seem almost inevitable: the only barrier to goals was the decisions of the forwards, who at times suffered from having too many options to choose from.

The contrast could not have been starker, and even though Cameroon were able to play through the midfield on a couple of occasions.

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Photo by Icon Sport

Nigeria's defensive strength

Cameroon's chief attacking outlets, Georges-Kévin N'Koudou, Frank Magri and Karl Toko Ekambi were neutralised by the three defensive grandmasters Calvin Bassey, William Troost-Ekong and Semi Ajayi.

That said, the Super Eagles should probably have created more chances themselves at the opposite end of the pitch, especially once they had seized control of midfield following Ademola's second goal.

This is another affirmation of Nigeria's formidable defence in the tournament, having allowed only one goal in nearly 400 minutes at the AFCON 2024.

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Godfred Budu

Godfred Budu is a purpose-driven Ghanaian sports writer with a sharp eye for excellence. He has had stints with www.kickgh.com inkandkicks.com and ghanafans.com. He loves to talk and write about football on the African continent.