After the conclusion of the Group A and Group B matches of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, it is now official who the Super Eagles will face next
Nigeria is poised to face Cameroon in the Round of 16 of the 34th Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast following the Indomitable Lions hard-fought 3-2 victory over The Gambia in an intense Group C finale in Bouake on Tuesday.
Cameroon needed a win to secure their spot in the knock-out stages and they did so in a very entertaining game that saw five goals. The result meant Guinea, who were second before Tuesday's games dropped to third after their 2-0 loss to Senegal.
Interestingly, Nigeria was the adversary in Cameroon's first three wins, with the initial encounter in 1984 taking place at the same Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny in Abidjan that will host Saturday night’s Round of 16 showdown.
The Lions emerged victorious with a 3-1 scoreline, despite Nigeria taking the lead after 10 minutes through Muda Lawal.
Cameroon came from from that deficit to win the game in one of many defeats they were to hand Nigeria in subsequent editions.
In 1988, Nigeria felt aggrieved when Mauritanian referee Idrissa Sarr disallowed a goal by Henry Nwosu in the first half at the Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca. Emmanuel Kunde scored from the spot in the second period to secure the win for the Lions.
In 2000, as co-hosts, Nigeria found themselves trailing 0-2 in a memorable final, with goals from Samuel Eto’o and Patrick Mboma, before Raphael Chukwu Ndukwe and Jay-Jay Okocha restored parity. The Lions eventually claimed victory, prevailing 4-3 after a penalty shootout at the National Stadium, Lagos.
The Lions successfully defended their title in Mali two years later, overcoming Senegal on penalties inside Bamako’s Stade March 26, and then came from behind to edge Egypt 2-1 in Libreville in 2017.
However, Nigerians will cherish the Super Eagles’ triumph over the Lions in the quarter-finals in Tunisia in 2004, and in the Round of 16 in Egypt in 2019.
It was more joy for Nigeria in 2019, also in the Round of 16, eventual tournament top scorer Odion Ighalo scored two of the goals in a 3-2 win, with midfielder Alex Iwobi netting the winner from a fabulous assist by Ighalo. to send Nigeria to the quarter-finals where they met and defeated South Africa before losing 2-1 to eventual champions Algeria in the semi-finals.
The rivalry will continue on Saturday when the two sides square up once again at the Stade Felix Houphouet Boigny, Abidjan with a spot in the quarter-final up for grabs.