ALEXANDRIA – Super Eagles midfielder Wilfred Ndidi believes that playing Cameroon at the Alexandria Stadium offers a bit of an advantage to Nigeria but not enough to tilt the game completely in their favour.
Bitter rivals Nigeria and Cameroon resume hostilities in the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in nineteen years when goals from Austin “Jay Jay” Okocha and John Utaka gave the Super Eagles a 2-1 victory over the Indomitable Lions in the quarter-finals of the 2004 edition in Tunisia.
With both sides set to meet in the Round of 16 at the 2019 edition in Egypt, Ndidi says although Cameroon, who have played all their group games at the Ismailia Stadium, might take some time adjusting to a ground where Nigeria played all their group matches, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the odds are entirely in Nigeria’s favour.
“It can be, yeah, it can be but, I don’t think one hundred percent,” said Ndidi about Nigeria’s familiarity with the Alexandria Stadium giving them an upper-hand over Cameroon.
“It’s not really an advantage because this is Egypt, so, I think the only fact is that we’ve played three times on the ground and that’s the only advantage. And then the size of the pitch, they might have to get to know the pitch on the game day during the game so the only advantage is the fact that we’ve played there three times.”
Nigeria’s shock loss to Madagascar in their last game in Group B meant the Super Eagles missed out on winning the group thus paving the way for the fixture against Cameroon who were runners up behind Ghana in Group F.
With so much riding on Saturday’s encounter, the 22-year old Leicester City midfielder says the pressure to progress to the quarter-finals with victory over Cameroon isn’t out of the ordinary because the team has had pressure to deliver results from their first day at the tournament.
Similarly, Ndidi is dismissive of his non-inclusion in CAF’s team of the group stages preferring instead to focus on what he deems more important: winning a fourth AFCON title for Nigeria.
“For me, it’s just another game, the team has been under pressure even from the first game. It’s just another game,” he said.
“I’m only here for the trophy, I’m not here for who’s in the list. We are here for one aim and that’s to contend and not to participate. I don’t really look at all these things, the main aim is the team, where we are going to and our main achievement in this tournament.”