The Super Eagles were almost flawless and completely neutralised their neighbours on their way to a comfortable 2-0 victory at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan on Saturday, January 27.
William Troost-Ekong passed a late fitness test to take his place in the starting line-up, with Jose Peseiro returning to the 3-4-3 formation that served him well against hosts Ivory Coast during the tournament's group phase.
Fulham midfielder Alex Iwobi also returned to the starting line-up after being rested against Guinea-Bissau, with Frank Onyeka also maintaining his spot at defensive midfield.
In attack, Osimhen and Ademola Lookman, whose double sunk Cameroon, were complimented by Moses Simon.
How the Nigeria vs Cameroon game unfolded
Nigeria made a quick start to the game and immediately made their intentions clear following the blast of the referee’s whistle.
Peseiro’s setup and tactical tweaks paid off, as the Super Eagles dominated the early exchanges. Nigeria thought they had opened the scoring when Semi Ajayi scored within the opening 20 minutes but the goal was later chalked off for offside following VAR review.
However, it was only a matter of time before the Super Eagles made another dangerous incursion; Osimhen dispossessed Christopher Wooh of the ball before threading a pass to Lookman to score.
Osimhen showed great determination to win the ball up the pitch and refused to go down despite the pulling and tugging, and his resilience ultimately paid off following Lookman’s fortuitous finish.
Cameroon offered very little threat up front and resorted to crosses and set pieces to try to hurt Nigeria’s defense but Troost-Ekong and co. were up to the task of dealing with all the in-swinging crosses.
Nigeria would finally put the game to bed late in the second half when Simon and Bassey combined beautifully from a free-kick before the latter put in a cross for Lookman to double their lead.
Despite having 10 minutes of added time, Rigobert Song and his boys rarely troubled the Super Eagles, who deservedly ran out as 2-0 winners against their neighbours.
Super Eagles player ratings
Goalkeeper and Defence
Stanley Nwabali (7/10)
Although he wasn’t tested much, the Chippa United goalkeeper was once again a calm presence at the back and dealt with all the aerial balls without any panic.
Calvin Bassey (8/10)
Put in an assured performance, first as part of a back-three and later moving to left-back, where he set up Lookman for Nigeria’s second goal.
William Troost-Ekong (8/10)
For a player who is just returning from injury, the 30-year-old didn’t show any signs of rustiness and put in some important blocks to ensure the Super Eagles kept a clean sheet.
Semi Ajayi (7/10)
Calm and composed, the centre-back complimented his teammates well in the three-back system and didn’t put a foot wrong.
Ola Aina (7/10)
Deployed as a wing-back against Cameroon, the Nottingham Forest man showed great awareness and athleticism on the right flank. He helped to thwart several attacking moves by the Indomitable Lions.
Zaidu Sanusi (4/10)
He was perhaps the poorest player on the pitch and didn’t really offer much.
Alex Iwobi (7/10)
Put in a tireless performance in midfield, doing all the dirty work and also starting some promising attacks with his pace.
Frank Onyeka (7/10)
An unsung hero in the Nigerian team, the Brentford man once again played a key role in the middle of the park with his timely tackles and blocks.
Ademola Lookman (8/10)
Perhaps his best game in a Nigerian jersey in a while, Lookman was a constant threat to Cameroon and capped off a great performance with two goals.
Victor Osimhen (9/10)
He may not have scored but was involved in every attacking move by Nigeria. The Napoli striker also never stopped running and made his presence felt throughout the game. His assist for the first goal was the reward for his hard work.
Moses Simon (6/10)
Got into so many good positions but rarely put in promising crosses or even offered much in attack. He, however, helped out defensively.
Subs and Manager
Francis Uzoho (N/A)
Didn’t really have much to do after replacing Nwabali with 10 minutes left.
Kenneth Omeruo (5/10)
Came on with the Super Eagles leading 1-0 and seamlessly slotted in at the back to help his teammates deal with Cameroon’s crosses.
Paul Onuachu (N/A)
Came on in added time and didn’t contribute much.
Bright Osayi-Samuel (N/A)
Barely touched the ball after replacing Moses Simon in injury time.
Jose Peseiro (8/10)
Got his tactics spot on! Cameroon never stood a chance right from the start of the game, while Nigeria looked threatening with every move.
His starting line-up and in-game changes were also on point and he deserves credit for how he managed the match.