By Toyin Saheed
Cameroon and Nigeria will resume hostilities when they meet for a second successive 2018 World Cup qualifying clash. The teams are set to battle at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaounde on Monday evening, kick-off at 19h00 CAT.
The teams met in a Group B match on Friday night and Nigeria powered to 4-0 victory on hone soil in Uyo, thanks to goals from Odion Ighalo, John Obi Mikel, Victor Moses and Kelechi Iheanacho.
As a result of the comprehensive victory, the Super Eagles are on verge of qualifying for Russia 2018: a win in Yaounde, combined with a win or draw for Algeria against Zambia in the other Group B match on Tuesday, and Nigeria will be able to book their flights to Russia.
Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr dedicated the victory on Friday to goalkeeper Carl Ikeme, who is currently battling Leukemia, and praised gloves-man Ikechukwu Ezenwa, who put in a strong showing against the Indomitable Lions.
“Before the match we pledged to win it for Carl and that we delivered tonight,” said the German tactician after the match.
“He [Ezenwa] kept well, just like the defence showed a lot of organisation and discipline.”
Rohr also outlined his plan for the remainder of the qualifiers, starting with the match against Cameroon.
“We need 11 points to qualify and now we have nine,” he explained.
“We must avoid defeat in Cameroon and fight for the remaining point in the remaining two matches against Algeria and Zambia.”
Rohr added, “We had a good mix of experience and youth, which was key to our victory. It is not finished yet, that is why we remain very humble.”
As for Cameroon coach Hugo Broos, the Belgian has admitted that his side’s hopes of reaching the World Cup are gone after the heavy loss in Uyo.
“There is no pressure anymore on Monday, Nigeria have nine points, we have two points,” Broos explained.
“But there is only an honour to defend; there is no importance to this. I just hope my players will have the same mentality that I have – that they will fight on Monday till the last minute – to beat Nigeria.
“If we had won this game, we would have a chance, but we lost it and I hope everyone will learn from this.”
Gambian referee Bakary Gassama will take charge of the match in Yaounde on Monday evening. The other Group B match between Algeria and Zambia will be held in Constantine on Tuesday night, kick-off at 22h30 CAT.
Meanwhile, Zambia’s bright 3-1 triumph over Algeria in Lusaka on Saturday not only left the Fennecs’ World Cup hopes in tatters, but hinted at a brighter future for Chipolopolo, even if a maiden World Cup appearance may be beyond them this time.