Talk about epic head-to-head African clashes, and rarely does the thought of a Cameroon versus Nigeria tie flow into your memory. It is not just your ordinary football match; it is a battle for pride and bragging rights among two fierce rivals and neighbours.
The old age foes fold their sleeves for another round of bare-knuckled battle when they clash in the round of 16 at the Total Africa Cup of Nations Egypt 2019 at the Alexandria Stadium on Saturday.
Overall, Cameroon and Nigeria have met 22 times with Nigeria the most successful in their meetings as they have won 11 times and lost only four of those games, with the rest ending up in draws.
Their first official meeting dates back to 1960 in an international friendly with the game ending in a barren draw. Nigeria then tasted identical 3-1 victories in the next two meetings, one a tie at the Nkrumah Cup in 1961 and the following year in an international friendly.
Their most recent meetings were in 2017 during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers with the Super Eagles thrashing the Lions 4-0 in the first leg in Uyo before playing to a 0-0 draw away from home.
Of those 22 meetings between these two African greats, six have been at the AFCON including three final meetings which Cameroon emerged victors.
Previous AFCON meetings
AFCON Final, 1984
Nigeria were in hunt for their second AFCON title after breaking their duck with a crown at home just four years earlier. Getting into a final against Cameroon in Cote d'Ivoire, the tide was tough against them and indeed at the end of the 90 minutes, they surrendered a 1-0 lead to lose 3-1. Muda Lawal opened the scoring for the Eagles but René Brice N’Djeya equalized for the Lions before half time. It only took five minutes in the latter stages of the tie for Cameroon to turn the game on its head through goals from Theophilus Abega and Ernest-Lottin Ebongue. This was Cameroon’s first ever AFCON title.
AFCON Group Stage & final, 1988
Four years later, Nigeria and Cameroon would meet in another final and again, Cameroon had the last laugh with their hands on the coveted piece of silverware in Casablanca, Morocco. They had previously met at the group stage at the same competition settling for a 1-1 draw. Samuel Okwaraji scored for Nigeria after two minutes before legendary Roger Milla leveled for Cameroon on 21 minutes. The two teams will cross each other path in the final. Emmanuel Kunde converted from the spot in the 55th minute in a hardly fought encounter as Cameroon chalked AFCON number two.
AFCON Third Place 1992
After disappointing losses to the Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire, Nigeria and Cameroon had to settle for the third place match. Nigeria won the tie 2-1 with Friday Ekpo and Rashid Yekini scoring for the Super Eagles and Emmanuel Maboang netting for the Indomitable Lions as Nigeria picked bronze.
AFCON final, 2000
Nigeria’s lack of luck against Cameroon in an AFCON final dragged on to 2000 and worse was at this time, the Lions delivered the devastating blow to the Eagles on home soil. After a tense penalty shoot-out, Cameroon won 4-3.
And just like the ‘88 final, Nigerians are still bitter with the one in 2000. Victor Ikpeba’s penalty was ruled out with the Nigerians lamenting it had crossed the line. And when Nwanko Kanu missed his kick, the football gods were smiling at Cameroon. The late Marc Vivien Foe missed, but Cameroon scored all the other four to clinch victory. Nigeria had given a fight, coming from two goals down to tie 2-2 and force the game to penalties. Samuel Eto’o and Patrick Mboma put the Lions ahead, but the ever green Okocha and Chukwu Ndukwe ensured the game went to its full length.
AFCON quarter finals, 2004
Nigeria and Cameroon, both boasting of a golden generation of players were clashed by fate in the quarters of the 2004 AFCON in Monastir, Tunisia. Nigeria had the last laugh in this match, coming from a goal down with Jay Jay Okocha cancelling out Samuel Eto’o’s opener before John Utaka sealed victory with a 73rd minute finish