The Super Eagles are set for a vital clash with arch-rivals Cameroon on Saturday as they seek a place in the quarter-finals of AFCON 2023.
Following the rich history between the two countries and the dour performance of the Super Eagles, many fans are a bit wary of what the Nigerian side will produce.
There have been complaints about the performance of the team and their inability to convert several chances that have come their way in the tournament.
Despite the cautious approach by plenty of fans, former Super Eagles and coach of the Squirrels of Benin, Gernot Rohr, has expressed confidence in his former wards to repeat their 2019 feat.
Super Eagles must beware of Cameroon’s mental strength
The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon may have had a torrid time qualifying for the knockout stage of AFCON 2023. However, it does not make them pushovers, and former Super Eagles coach Rohr highlighted that in a recent interview.
Speaking ahead of the game, which comes up on Saturday, Rohr said the Nigerian side must believe in themselves, and they would win as they did in 2019.
Rohr said Cameroon also have problems and are struggling in the tournament. He pointed to the game against Gambia as a case study for the vulnerabilities of the Indomitable Lions.
However, Rohr said it was a pointer to the mental strength of the Cameroonian side, as they never give up.
Cameroon have won all 3 #AFCON finals against Nigeria, who got the better of the Indomitable Lions in three other meetings.
Nigerian attack have found goals hard to come by with just 3 in 3 matches.
Last AFCON game the Eagles beat the Lions in Alexandria.pic.twitter.com/WyPB3JdjiY
— Oluwashina Okeleji (@oluwashina) January 26, 2024
“When you see the match against Gambia, you say it’s finished when they were losing 2-1 with five minutes to the end of the game.”
The German coach also pointed to the same spirit within the Cameroonian side in 2019.
“In the last AFCON, they were losing 3-0 to Burkina Faso, but inn ten minutes they came back to 3-3, which means that these players never accept defeat. They still believe, they’re strong mentally and this fighting spirit they have is wonderful.”
Cameroon have defensive vulnerabilities
Despite the praise for Cameroon, Rohr was confident that the Super Eagles could beat Cameroon.
Nigeria has had its share of struggles at AFCON 2023, with the side struggling to score goals. The Super Eagles have played three matches and scored three goals, conceding one.
Of all the goals Nigeria scored, only one has come from open play. They have missed several chances, with Victor Osimhen the biggest culprit.
Rohr said the Super Eagles can develop the same fighting spirit as the Cameroonians and defeat them as they did in the round of 16 at AFCON 2019.
Cameroon head coach, Robert Song on Onana;
"I don't have problems with my goalkeepers, all of them are good."
— Adepoju Tobi Samuel 🇳🇬 (@OgaNlaMedia) January 26, 2024
“It’s a question of mental strength, discipline, solidarity and fighting spirit,” Rohr said.
Rohr also praised the Nigerian players, stating his knowledge of those players allows him to say they can do it.
“Most of the players, I know them very well in Nigeria. They can do it and they have it. They also have the best player in Africa. I’m sure they will qualify.”
Rohr concluded with the vulnerabilities in the Cameroon side. He said they had issues defensively, in their relationship and with the goalkeeper.
However, he said Nigeria must avoid all these problems and will win with togetherness.
Nigeria has lost three AFCON finals to Cameroon but never a knockout game. It is the fourth time they will clash outside the final.
This article was most recently revised and updated 4 weeks ago