Nigeria and Cameroon meet in the round of 16 in the African Cup of Nations, kicking off on Saturday at 6:00pm local time in Alexandria, Egypt. Two of the three previous winners of the African Cup of Nations go head to head at this early stage in the competition. Who will face the early exit?
Nigeria, winners of this tournament in 2013, are always considered one of the favourites to go all the way, but the bookmakers had at least five other teams ahead of them in the pecking order. They started this tournament off with back to back successes, with narrow 1-0 victories over Burundi and Guinea which cemented their spot in the last 16 before they had to play their third match.
In the final group game, all they needed to do was avoid a defeat against the unfancied Madagascar, but in one of the shocks of the tournament so far, Madasgacar condemned Nigeria to their first defeat with a 2-0 victory. Therefore, Nigeria finished runners-up in the group, which paves the way for a trickier last 16 tie. Odion Ighalo, the former Watford striker now playing in China, was dark horse to be the competitions top scorer, and he has one goal to his name, but will be desperate to add to it in this crucial knock-out match.
The holders Cameroon weren’t tipped by the bookmakers heading into the tournament, with many listing them as 7th favourites. It’s fair to say that they have more talented squads in the past, but has the team changed that much from their success in 2017? Not really, is the short answer, but one key player that they have missed in this tournament is Vincent Aboubakar, who scored the winner in the final two years ago. The Porto striker’s world class finishing will be missed, and retaining the trophy with a weakened side, is never easy.
Despite that, manager Clarence Seedorf will hope that Cameroon can produce a scintillating display here after flattering to deceive in their two most recent matches in the African Cup of Nations. A goalless draw against Ghana and then against Benin was enough to qualify Cameroon, thanks to their opening game win against Guinea-Bissau, but the fans would have demanded a lot more. Cameroon can hold on to the fact that they haven’t been breached defensively yet, but now their team will truly be put to the test.
Head to Head
These two reputable African football nations have met each other 22 times in the past with Nigeria having the stronger record. They have recorded 11 wins in this fixture, compared to Cameroon who have only won four. It must be mentioned though, that incredibly, nearly all of Cameroon’s wins have been when they have met in the African Cup of Nations, winning on three occasions which were ALL finals! Whereas Nigeria only beaten Cameroon twice in this tournament. However, their most recent meetings were for the 2018 World Cup qualification, where Nigeria won 4-0 at home, before securing a 1-1 draw away in Cameroon. Cameroon haven’t won this fixture since 2000, with Nigeria winning four since then.
My Predictions and Betting Tips
Nigeria are slight favourites at 6/4 to win, with Cameroon priced at 2/1. For the sides to draw, that is backed at 15/8. To qualify, Nigeria are at 8/11, with Cameroon at 1/1. It’s a tight one to call, and extra time and penalties may decide it. You’ll be content if you decide to back either team to win in extra time at 5/1, or either team to take the victory on penalties at 4/1.
If I had to choose a team within the 90 minutes, I’d choose Nigeria to win, via a narrow 1-0 score line at 5/1. For a Scorecast, you can add striker Odion Ighalo to score in that score line at 12/1. Recent results in their group games suggest it won’t be a high scoring game, so backing a 0-0 at 5/1, or there to be less than 1.5 goals at 5/4 should be considered. On the flip side, this creates value for backing there to be plenty of goals, so a game with over 3.5 goals is at 4/1, and we don’t see odds that long usually.
Finally, for the tipsters, huge money can be won by correctly predicting how the half time and full team results will pan out, with a Cameroon/Nigeria at an incredible 40/1.[geot exclude_country="US" ][/geot] [geot country="US,CA" ]
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