The two African giants will lock horns in Abidjan on Saturday for a chance to advance to the quarterfinals of the continental competition
Former Montpellier forward John Utaka has warned Nigeria’s Super Eagles that their quality as a good team will not be enough to beat Cameroon, Soccernet.ng reports.
Nigeria are the bookmaker’s slight favourite to record a win when they trade tackles with Cameroon in the Round of 16 at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.
Unlike the Cameroonians, Nigeria remain unbeaten at the AFCON with wins over hosts Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau preceding an opening-day draw with Equatorial Guinea.
The Super Eagles also boast in their ranks the reigning African Footballer of the Year, who was the top scorer during the qualifying series with ten goals and has had a hand in each of Nigeria’s three goals in Cote d’Ivoire.
Still, ex-Portsmouth winger Utaka believes the Super Eagles will need to show more against an unpredictable opponent like Cameroon.
Utaka knows what he is talking about, as the 2008 FA Cup winner was in the Nigerian squad that defeated Cameroon 2-1 in the quarterfinals of the 2004 edition of the AFCON.
The former Super Eagles ace scored the winning goal for Nigeria after Austin Okocha’s excellent free-kick cancelled Samuel Eto’o’s opener for the Indomitable Lions.
Revealing the secrets to overcoming Cameroon, Utaka charged Jose Peseiro’s men to be ready for battle, raise their concentration level, and match their rivals in passion and desire for the entire 90 minutes and stoppage time.
“The key to beating Cameroon will be intensity and focus,” Utaka told ESPN.
“Because we are facing a very good team. We have played against them over the years and we know that when it comes to Nigeria, they tend to strengthen their armour.
“We have to bring intensity and stay focused from beginning to the end of the game because this is a game that you don’t want to slack. We have to win our duels, both on the ground and in the air, and then in the midfield, that is the heart of the game where the match will be decided.
“Once you own the midfield, you will be able to progress and find your strikers.
“The good thing is that we have a great team that is capable of beating them.
“Now we have to bring intensity and stay focused from beginning to the end of the game.”
The match between Nigeria and Cameroon will be played at the Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny, Abidjan, today, Saturday, January 27, 2024, with kickoff time slated for 9 pm (Nigerian time).