There’s been reactions from every corner over the threat Nigeria will have to face in their bid to qualify for the World Cup in Russia, having the recently-crowned African champions, Cameroon, in the qualifying group.
Cameroon, who were considered underdogs at the just-concluded Africa Cup of Nations, came from behind to win 2-1 against Egypt in the final, as they lifted their fifth Nations Cup title on Sunday in Gabon.
Their next big game for the team is against Nigeria in their quest to represent the continent at the global stage.
However, Nigeria are currently leading the group with Cameroon sitting four points behind in second place. But the Eagles will play the Lions back to back by August this year, which will go a long way to determine which team goes on to the World Cup finals.
Orji Uzor Kalu
The former governor advised Eagles Manager Gernot Rohr to keep more than an eye on the Lions following their ‘incredible’ performance in Gabon.
He added: “The Indomitable Lions have become a looming threat to Eagles World Cup aspirations. I did not give them a chance at all but now we have all seen that the road to Russia 2018 is going to be rougher. For Cameroon to excel without Liverpool’s Joel Matip and the trio of Eric Choupo-Moting, Andre Onana and Alan Nyom, that’s incredible.”
The former coach of the Super Eagles said the Eagles are now in a better position to beat Cameroon. According to him, the worst case scenario would be for the Eagles to win them at home and earn a draw away.
He said: “The victory (AFCON final) will give them serious boost no doubt, but it will also make our players not to relax, but be better prepared for the August match.
“Cameroon will be coming here with all their arsenals, including those who didn’t participate in Gabon, but we have a good team with a blend of young and experienced players that will beat the African champion.”
The former Nigeria international has advised the Super Eagles to be ready for war when they face the Lions.
“Cameroon are known for their character, discipline, and never-say-die attitude. Nobody gave this Cameroon team a chance (to win the AFCON 2017) but they believed they could do it and they did it,” Ikpeba said.
“So it is for the Super Eagles to be prepared, they have to show character against a very physical Cameroon side. They may not be talented like the Super Eagles but it is going to be battle royale in the two games. We need to educate our players especially the young ones like Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho. They have to have the belief because it is going to be war.”
The former Eagles defender also aired his opinion concerning the matter.
“Cameroon had a superb outing in Gabon which surprised most people. In fact, I tipped Ghana to defeat them in the semi-finals, but they went ahead to progress to the final.
“Nigeria have a good side at the moment too. Yes, Cameroon are physical and that gives their opponents the jitters, but hopefully, we will cope with that.”
The Super Eagles ace did not see anything special about the Cameroonian team. In spite of their Nations Cup victory, Agbo believes Cameroon are not a threat.
“With all due respect, the AFCON is not the World Cup. And whatever Cameroon achieved at the AFCON will not stop us from being at Russia 2018,” he said.
“I haven’t seen anything special in the Cameroonian team. They do not have what it takes to stop the Super Eagles. No team can stop us from the World Cup.”
Cameroon Coach Hugo Broos
Meanwhile, the coach of the Indomitable lions have reiterated confidence that his side can defeat Nigeria. He said this after their AFCON triumph in Gabon, when he likened Nigeria to the teams he defeated in the tournament.
“You have to allow us enjoy this remarkable victory before focusing on other tasks ahead. We won the trophy in style beating teams like Senegal, Ghana and Egypt in the final”, he said.
“Considering the pedigree of the teams I mentioned earlier are either better or same as Nigeria, it’s normal that if we can beat them in a tense situation like at the Cup of Nations, we should also be confident against Nigeria.”
Nigeria Coach Gernot Rohr
But the Super Eagles Technical Adviser, who watched Cameroon throughout the Nations Cup live in Gabon, has expressed optimism that Nigeria’s World Cup qualification campaign will remain intact despite not playing at the Africa Cup of Nations.
“We are in good position to qualify. I don’t think our not participating in the AFCON will have effects on the team.
“I sincerely believe we will do everything possible to qualify for the World Cup going by the commitment of the players,” he said.
“It is an interesting challenge, to have a new team, a young team, to build a team with players who really have the spirit of the country, who want to play, to fight, to give their all, who don’t want to speak about material things, but who are here because they want to play for their country,” Rohr added.
Nonetheless, as it stands, the Super Eagles are four points ahead of Cameroon in Group B of the qualifiers after winning their first two qualifying games against Zambia and Algeria.
The national team would henceforth require only seven points from the remaining qualifying ties in order to clinch a spot in Russia. And their performance against Cameroon come August will determine the possibility of that qualification bid.
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