The first of two friendly international matches between Nigeria and Cameroon took place on Friday night at the Weiner Neustadt Stadium in Austria with the Indomitable Lions running away with a 1-0 win in a largely entertaining game.
Here are five interesting things we learnt from that game…
1. Andre Anguissa is a record-maker.
With his 37th minute goal which broke the deadlock and ultimately became the match winner, the 25-year old Fulham of England midfielder became the first Cameroonian player to score a match-winning goal in regulation time against Nigeria in almost 32 years!
The last time Cameroon won a match (within regulation time) against Nigeria was on 27 August, 1989 at the Stade Omnisports in Yaounde. It was a World Cup qualifying game that eventually saw the Lions going to Italia ’90 and the scorer on that occasion was Francoise Omam-Biyik who found the net in the 31st minute.
2. Super Eagles still very offensive.
Nigeria may have lost on the night but they played some pretty impressive attacking footballer which underlined the fact that the power of this present team is in the offence.
Paul Unuachu, Kelechi Iheanacho, Moses Simon, Alex Iwobi, substitute Terem Moffi and even Wilfred Ndidi all had decent cracks attempts at goal but for the brilliance and agility of the Cameroon goalkeeper Simon Omossola who stood between them and his goal. The AS Vita of Congo goalkeeper justified why he was voted the best goalkeeper in the Congolese team and made a strong case for why he should be promoted up from his third-choice position to more regular playing time. If there was one reason the Lions didn’t concede a goal and if that reason had a name, it would be Omossola. Remember the name.
3. Ndidi is a future Super Eagles captain.
Perhaps this has been visible since he first put on the green and white of Nigeria but, on Friday night, Wilfred Ndidi showed once again why he’s a candidate for the captain of the Super Eagles.
He had such a commanding display in the middle of the park that you’re time and again reminded of the great players who’d played in that position and gone on to wear the captain’s band. You would be forgiven if you thought you were watching Sunday Oliseh or, probably because of the number 4 shirt, the late Stephen Keshi. Ndidi was so confident on the ball and comfortable in his role that he stole upfront once in a while to test the Cameroonian goalkeeper. After six years in the squad, the Leicester City man is already playing like a veteran.
4. Rohr must make up his mind about tactics.
Again, the issue of a discernible tactical formation for the Super Eagles was brought into sharp focus on Friday night with critics of Gernot Rohr claiming he clearly had none, to start with.
In his defence, the German had claimed prior to the game that he was just going to use the match to test some of the new invites to the team.
He’d said: “This friendly against Cameroon is an interesting game. Of course, we are not going to play for the result against Cameroon in Austria, but it’s an opportunity to see our boys and see something different with our systems against a very good team that will host the next Afcon.”
However, there were one or two tactical decisions in the match that left one scratching the head. Hopefully, Rohr would have seen enough on Friday night to have a better game on Tuesday.
5. Redemption time next Tuesday.
Talking about Tuesday, the Super Eagles have a quick opportunity to redeem themselves in the second game of the friendly internationals when they come up against Cameroon at the same venue.
One hopes the coaching crew and players also have a sense of history to know that the last time Nigeria lost back-to-back games to Cameroon was between 1984 and 1988, both incidentally in the finals of the AFCONs of those years.
Should the Eagles lose again on Tuesday, they would have allowed the Lions to match a 33-year record which is totally unacceptable to Nigerians. As the players would have learned, these are not mere friendlies because, given our history of intense rivalry, there’s no such thing as a ‘friendly match’ with Cameroon. It is always war!
So Tuesday is redemption time to right the wrong of Friday night’s defeat and, one sincerely hopes, the Super Eagles would have a sense of history and redeem itself.