Defending Champions Cameroon face three-time winners Nigeria in the Africa Cup of Nations round of 16. Nigeria have enjoyed success in this West African derby with three wins and one draw in four previous clashes, their most recent meeting in the world cup qualifiers saw a 4-0 thrashing of the Indomitable Lions and a 1-all draw in Cameroon in the return leg. This tactical analysis assesses the teams and their statistics as they look to kick on in this year’s tournament.
Both giants are enduring indifferent campaigns with Nigeria yet to find a spark in attack. The super Eagles averaged 55.4% possession and passed the ball with 81.7% accuracy in the group stages but only scored a late goal each in the first two group games to seal qualification before a 2-nil loss to Madagascar.
They, however, possess a defensive forte in Kenneth Omeruo. The Chelsea loanee is successful with three tackles per game, 5.5 blocks, 1.5 interceptions and has won 3.5 aerial duels as well as heading in the goal that sent Nigeria through to the knockout stages against Guinea.
Sitting in front of the defence is Wilfred Ndidi who has continued his club form in his first AFCON finals appearance. The Leicester city man averages 81.3% possession per game but has been immense in the defensive third, winning 2.3 aerial duels, 1.3 tackles and two interceptions per game. He attempted the most tackles in the Premier League last season and is at that point in his career when he seems to win every tackle he goes into.
Jon Mikel Obi is ruled out with a knee strain but Paderborn left back Jamilu Collins is set to return, this could mean a return to right full-back for Ola Aina, giving Nigeria more balance as opposed to playing a Centre back on the right during the group games.
The Indomitable Lions also struggle in attack, failing to find the net since two goals in their opening group game. They mostly rely on Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Karl Toko Ekambi for inspiration in the absence of Porto’s Vincent Aboubakar in attack. The forwards have so far underwhelmed with Ekambi faring slightly better creating 1.7 chances per game, two shots per game and one assist.
One of Europe’s finest young goalkeepers at the moment, André Onana, protects the Cameroon goal and he would hope to thwart the Nigerian attackers who have yet to fire on all cylinders.
Cameroon enjoys a superior height advantage over the Nigerians and can put it to use with one goal from a corner kick scored by their tallest player, Yaya Banana. Nigeria do have men adept in the air as well; including Paul Onuachu (6.5 aerial duels won), Omeruo (3.5) and William Troost-Ekong (2.5), and boast an overall aerial duel success rate of 54%.
Nigeria and Cameroon have not quite got going in terms of scoring goals while all statistics point to a low-scoring encounter. Pride and ego is at stake in this derby, however, with the reward of a quarterfinal clash against the winner of the Egypt vs South Africa game.
Clarence Seedorf’s defending Champions might just rise to the occasion now that the stakes are up.
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