ALEXANDRIA – Nigeria’s loss to Madagascar in the group stage of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations means the Super Eagles go into Saturday’s Round of 16 encounter against defending champions and bitter rivals Cameroon as underdogs according to Nigeria’s head coach Gernot Rohr.
The Super Eagles and the Indomitable Lions will renew their storied and long-running rivalry at the Cup of Nations for the first time in nineteen years at the Alexandria Stadium tomorrow as they jostle for a place in the quarter-finals.
And while Nigeria were 2-1 winners in their quarter-final clash in 2004 when Cameroon were defending champions as they are now, Rohr said, while speaking at the pre-match conference ahead of the match, that the loss to Madagascar might have taught his players “humility” but Cameroon who are unbeaten and are yet to concede in the tournament must be viewed as favourites.
“The positive thing about the loss to Madagascar is that it’s a lesson in humility because sometimes it’s very good for everybody to have it. For the player, for the staff, for the officials, for the fans. And also, I think after this match [against Madagascar], we are not really the favorites for the match of tomorrow.”
Notwithstanding Nigeria’s less than ideal end to the group stage, Rohr said the five-day gap before the clash against the Indomitable Lions means his side has been able to fully research tomorrow’s opponents with the players.
And with the players fully rested and perfectly prepared, Rohr says his players must show “fighting spirit” and must use tomorrow’s encounter to “make Nigerians proud” and show against Cameroon that the loss to Madagascar was “an accident”.
“It’s a great football match for us and for everybody and we are happy to be qualified for the second round, and of course Cameroon are one of the best sides in this AFCON and it could be a final but its already a match of Round of 16 and we are preparing it very well,” Rohr said.
“We had the time this week to recover very well, to have good training sessions and also to hold some good meetings with the players and to see how this good Cameroon team are playing.
“Now the moment is come tomorrow to show Nigerians that the last match was an accident and our team hasn’t lost its football and it’s a very exciting game all the players must be happy to play such a game.
“I told them yesterday that they should be happy to play this match for us and they have to enjoy playing these great matches. I want to see fun, fighting spirit because now a new tournament is beginning and each match is so important that I’m sure we will give all that we can give make Nigeria proud.”