The Super Eagles and the Indomitable Lions will go to battle on Sunday in an international friendly in Brussels.
Both sides have reasons to want good result against their foes but there will either be a winner, and of course a loser or it would end in a draw.
Completesportsnigeria.com’s IZUCHUKWU OKOSI takes a look at the 10 factors that makes it a match to look forward to.
1. Cameroon Lead On Head-To-Head
The Super Eagles of Nigeria have lost more games, head-to-head, against Cameroon, both in competitive and non competitive games.
Nigeria have won only four of their 19 previous games against the former African champions, who claim the honour for eight wins. Both teams have drawn seven of their matches.
2. AFCON Rivalry
Cameroon and Nigeria have been bitter rivals and the Africa Cup of Nations has produced remarkable results for both sides.
Nigeria lost 3-1 to Cameroon in the finals of the 1984, 1988 AFCON finals and at AFCON 2000.
The 1988 and 2000 finals were very painful to the Nigerian supporters. In 1988 Henry Nwosu scored from a glancing header during the final at the Stade Mohamed V, Casablanca but referee Idrissa Sarr from Mauritania ruled that Nwosu was offside.
Nigerians cried blue murder and even suggested that influence from Cameroon must have masterminded that turn of event.
Similar ‘injustice’ was meted out to the Nigerian Super Eagles and their fans at home in 2000.
The final of the AFCON that year which Nigeria co-hosted with Ghana had ended 2-2 after full time and penalty shoot-outs would have to be played to determine the new African champions.
Nigeria’s Victor Ikpeba ‘missed’ his kick and in despair put his hands on his head, but television replays showed that the 1997 African Footballer of the Year winner had actually scored-because the ball crossed the line.
That piece of history will reverberate on Sunday and the Eagles will be baying for the blood of the Lions.
3. FIFA Rankings Pride At Stake
The international friendlies being played this month will surely affect the movements of teams on the monthly FIFA rankings.
The Super Eagles are currently ranked 10th in Africa and 52nd in the world while Cameroon is Africa’s 7th best ranked national team and 48th in the world.
The coaches and players of both sides know this fact and will be keen to get decent result after full time.
4. More Friendly Wins For Nigeria
Historically. Nigeria have prevailed over Cameroon in friendly encounters. They have met four times in international friendlies and Nigeria have won twice while the other two games ended in draws.
On 26 April 1960 both teams met for the first time in a friendly game and it ended scoreless. On 15 April 1963,Cameroon hosted a game between them, and Nigeria won 3-1..
It was the turn of Nigeria to host another friendly game between both sides on 31 August 1967. The game ended 1-1. On 22 January 1975, Nigeria defeated Cameroon again 1-0 in an international friendly
5. The Search For The 40th Goal
The 19 games between both countries have produced 39 goals and the players will be gunning for the 40th goal between them. This will be some sort of record for the scorer of the 40th goal on Sunday.
6. January Transfer Window Inspiration
Some of the players of both sides will be playing the game with the conviction that they need to prove a point to the managers of top clubs around the world.
A player like Nigeria’s Odion Ighalo who was not invited for the 2017 AFCON qualifier against Tanzania by Sunday Oliseh may have signed a new deal for Watford in England but his current form makes it imperative that he will remain a golden fish with no hiding place and more goal-scoring feats will only serve to alert clubs across Europe.The closest time to that ever happening is in January when the transfer window reopens.
7. Olympic Pride Motivation
Nigeria won the Men’s football event of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, becoming Africa’s first winner of the olmpic men’s football event.
Cameroon achieved similar feat in 2000 when Sydney hosted the Olympic Games. That means that at the back of their minds, players and coaches of the Super Eagles and Indomitable Lions are mindful of the capabilities of their rivals.
Some of the players in both camps are likely to feature at some point at the Olympics in their careers.
8. Carl Ikeme Stepping Into Enyeama’s Shoes
The retirement of Vincent Enyeama from the Nigerian national team after a bitter spat with Sunday Oliseh is likely to put enormous pressure on Wolverhampton goalkeeper Carl Ikeme.
The friendly will be a chance for him to prove his mettle against a strong side after the 2-0 defeat against DR Congo on Thursday. Enyeama was part of the team that defeated Cameroon 2-1 in the quarter-finals of the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations.
9. Oliseh’s Scores To Settle With The Lions
Super Eagles coach, Sunday Oliseh, was in the team that lost in the final of the 2000 AFCON final and his being the Nigeria coach now means he has a score to settle with Cameroon.
Oliseh was known to be ill during the latter stages of that tournament, but he defied his ill-health to play for his country.
That zeal and patriotism is what he should be harping on in the Eagles camp.
10. Head-To-Head Media Frenzy
Much of the match commentary on television on Sunday will centre on previous meetings between both teams and it will be interesting to see which of the two giants will fall after the game. The fact that the game holds in Europe makes it very interesting for the neutrals who know giants of African football are in action.