Nigeria Braces For Second Clash Against Cameroon In Vienna

by Lekan Sowande, Abuja.

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The Super Eagles of Nigeria and the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon will once more battle it out in the second of a two-match friendly programme at the Stadion Wiener Neustadt in the Austrian capital, Vienna.

Five-time African champions Cameroon edged the first encounter 1-0 at the same venue on Friday, courtesy of a 36th minute strike by Andre Zambo Nguissa. The Super Eagles created chance after chance but failed to get the ball into the net.

Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr spoke at length about having to use a host of new players in the first session. He is compelled to do even more of that in Tuesday’s encounter following injuries to defenders William Ekong and Jamilu Collins, as well as the pacy winger Moses Simon.

Super Eagles of Nigeria having a training session

Simon appeared to be getting better as of Monday morning, but he would likely start from the bench. With the versatile Abdullahi Shehu heaved back to the rear from midfield for which he was initially pencilled down, Rohr has had to extend invitation to Hungary–based Vincent Onovo after a couple of injuries from Friday’s match.

Rohr is likely to field a three-man defence with perhaps Chidozie Awaziem, who impressed on Friday, together with Abdullahi and Ozornwafor. Another late invitee, Anthony Izuchukwu, from Slovakia, is another possibility.

A loaded midfield could include Onovo, with Wilfred Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo, Samson Tijani and Abraham Marcus also on the roll.

Home–based professional Anayo Iwuala could start, with Paul Onuachu, Peter Olayinka, Kelechi Iheanacho, Alex Iwobi, Moses Simon, Terem Moffi and Captain Ahmed Musa also to see some action.

Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr instructing the players during training session

“We missed seven key players due to injuries, so it was not our best team, but it was good to see other players,” Rohr said to the media after Friday’s game.

“We are not happy to lose the game, but we saw some interesting new young players.”

Friday’s defeat was Rohr’s first loss to Cameroon in four matches. The Eagles pounded the Lions 4-0 in Uyo and were held 1-1 in Yaounde in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches in September 2017, and then edged the Lions 3-2 in the Round of 16 at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt two years ago.

Though a friendly game, fierce rivals Cameroon were very happy to prevail over Nigeria for the first time since winning the Africa Cup of Nations final after a penalty shoot-out in Lagos 21 years ago.

Cameroon and Bayern Munich striker Eric Choupo-Moting

“We took the game seriously because we played against a tough opponent, a big game against a big rival,” Cameroon and Bayern Munich striker Eric Choupo-Moting said.

“It was important for us to show our preparations, and I’m happy we won.”

A sense of purpose to win the second game reigns supreme in the Eagles’ Hilton Garden Inn camp in Wiener Neustadt, 46 kilometres outside Vienna.

After a one-hour training session in the light drizzle on Sunday morning, the three-time African champions will have their last training session at the match venue on Monday evening. Captain Ahmed Musa says defeat in Tuesday’s game is not an option.

Super Eagles Captain Ahmed Musa

“We are not happy to have created so many chances and fail to score,” Musa said. “We will approach the game differently on Tuesday. Cameroon is a big rival and we are not happy to have lost the game on Friday.”

Both teams have qualified for the finals of the 33rd Africa Cup of Nations, which Cameroon will host in January 2022. Nigeria finished top of their group winning four of six matches and drawing two, while Cameroon also topped theirs though they had already qualified as hosts.

The two teams are using both matches to look at their general shape, form and structure ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches starting in September.

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