Nigeria vs Cameroon: Will Osimhen be the key as AFCON rivalry heats up?

Nigeria will be looking for a measure of revenge and a place in the quarter-finals of AFCON 2024 when they take on Cameroon at the same venue they fell to the Indomitable Lions in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations forty years ago – the Félix Houphouët Boigny Stadium in Abidjan.

Cameroon will return to the scene they emerged champions four decades ago on Saturday January 27. They'll face a Nigeria side enhanced by the emergence of Victor Osimhen. The Napoli forward has proven to be one of the world's best players, and is the current African footballer of the year.

Osimhen was an unused substitute in 2019 when Nigeria defeated Cameroon at the same stage in Egypt. This time he'll be hoping to lead the pack as Nigeria continues its quest for a major continental title since 2013 in South Africa.

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The 25-year-old Osimhen was in sensational form for club and country in 2022/23. Not only was he the top scorer in the Italian Serie A, the former Wolfsburg player also finished top scorer in the qualifiers for AFCON 2024. Osimhen's numbers have made him crucial to Jose Peseiro's plans as Nigeria eyes a spot in the last 8 of AFCON 2024 with a win.

The Napoli hitman who recently stated that he had decided on his next club has earned comparisons with Super Eagles great Rashidi Yekini.

How Nigeria & Cameroon got to the AFCON 2024 last 16

Nigeria finished second in the final standings behind show-stoppers Equatorial Guinea in Group A. They registered a 1-1 draw in the opening group game, defeated home side Ivory Coast 1-0 and recorded another win by the same scoreline against Guinea Bissau.

On the other hand, Cameroon survived a late scare in a comeback win against The Gambia in Group C. They had earlier drawn their group opener against Guinea and lost to defending champions Senegal in the other group tie.

Equal on points with Guinea who lost the corresponding match, 2-0 to runaway leaders Senegal, Cameroon got the edge on account of having scored more goals in the group.

Nigeria vs Cameroon
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Nigeria vs Cameroon – the AFCON tales

The very first Africa Cup of Nations clash between Nigeria and Cameroon was held at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium in Abidjan in 1984.

On that day, former President Félix Houphouët-Boigny declared a public holiday to allow fans to make their way into the stadium for the final.

That was probably the right thing to do to have a befitting closure as the home side had been bundled out in the group stages.

Nigeria had scored first but the experience of the Indomitable Lions ensured that they came from behind to win the game (3-1), as well as the title.

AFCON 2024
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Saturday's clash will be the eighth meeting between both teams in the history of the competition.

After the 1984 final, Nigeria and Cameroon met twice in AFCON 1988. First they played out a 1-1 draw in the group stages, with Samuel Okwaraji and Roger Milla getting on the scoresheet in Rabat, Morocco.

The Super Eagles and Indomitable Lions also clashed in the final 10 days later, with Cameroon lifting the trophy at the expense of Nigeria.

Next stop was the third-place game of Senegal 1992, where Rashidi Yekini led the Super Eagles to a 2-1 victory.

These teams squared off against each other in another final game when Ghana and Nigeria co-hosted AFCON 2000. The Indomitable Lions reigned supreme on penalties after a 2-2 draw.

Tunisia 2004 witnessed another fierce battle between both countries, this time in the quarter-finals. The Super Eagles came from behind to defeat Cameroon, after Samuel Eto'o opened the scoring a few minutes before half-time.

The most recent encounter between these outfits was in AFCON 2019's Round of 16, where Nigeria came out on top in a five-goal thriller.

While Cameroon have five AFCON titles to their name, three of those were at the expense of Nigeria.

The Super Eagles will be hoping to maintain the advantage enjoyed over Cameroon in recent times as these teams go head-to-head on Saturday.

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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.