By Ediale Kingsley
Nigeria takes on Cameroon in a very wet season as report says Uyo has been experiencing rains since Wednesday.
Super Eagles host Cameroon in Uyo, this 1st of September and will be received in three days time in Yaounde for the 2nd leg. It is all about battling for the ticket to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Cameroon and Nigeria are the first and second highest playing African countries in the history of the FIFA World Cup . While the total number of points gathered by Nigeria in all World Cup matches to date is 14. Cameroon boast of the most points (19) by an African team at the tournament. Yet, going by records and present stats, it is Cameroon that should be scared of Nigeria more.
Ediale Kingsley attempts to dig deep into the records as well as peep into basic factors that could decide the eventual winner of the World Cup Qualifier between these two giants.
While Cameroon would be going into the match with all foreign based players, Nigeria has 2 local based goalkeepers among its quad, Ifeanyi Ubah’s Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Plateau United’s Ajiboye Dele.
A further dissection of both squads reveals that Cameroon has invited 8 forwards, 8 defenders, 4 midfielders and 3 goalkeepers. Nigeria on the other hand goes into the fixture with 7 forwards, 7 defenders, 6 midfielders and 3 goalies.
From these set ups, it’s glaring that Cameroon are coming to force a draw. They have placed more priorities on their defence against midfield. If Nigeria must overcome they must ensure that the numbers of invited midfielders actually counts.
They must dominate the midfield in a peculiar way. The too many short passes, the Super Eagles are known for must be converted to long balls into the Cameroon’s box 18.
It’s expected that the Nations Cup Champs will be very physical in that side of the pitch. Consistency of such long plays will provide either goal opportunities or penalties.
Another working formula is to have wingers drive in from both sides of the pitch. Moses and Musa can do that.
Nigeria started playing Cameroon since 26th April 1960. Since then both teams have scored 45 goals. Nigeria has 29 of those goals, while Cameroon has netted 16. Another indication that Cameroon doesn’t score more than they like to defend.
They may prefer to defend more when playing Nigeria but that hasn’t stopped the goals from coming in. In all the 20 games played against Cameroon only 3 of such matches ended in a goalless draw. Although, the chances of both teams scoring is 50-50. Since out of the 20 games played, 10 produced a goal-goal situation.
Nigeria has scored 3 goals against Cameroon in 5 fixtures. Cameroon has only been able to do that one time. None of the sides has gone past scoring 3 goals in any of the past 20 fixtures.
While both teams seem to look as an equal match, it may interest you to know that they have only managed to have just 3 straight draws in the 20 game fixtures.
Dividing the 20 fixtures played in the past into 4 quarters: the first quarter produced 7 goals for Nigeria and 3 goals for Cameroon, second quarter saw the margin reduced to Nigeria 5 and Cameroon 3, the third quarter went to Cameroon who had 5 goals against Nigeria’s 2 goals, the last quarter however saw Nigeria moving far ahead their French counterpart on a 10 goals to 3. Little wonder, the odds and bookmakers fancy Nigeria to have the 3 points from the 1st leg in the bags.
Of players invited, Team Nigeria has 5 players doing businesses in England, 4 players in Turkey, 2 players in Nigeria, 2 players in China, 2 players in Portugal, 2 players in Israel, and 1 players each in Belgium, Russia, Netherland, Cyprus, Germany and France.
Cameroon on the other hand has 5 players whose clubs are in France, 3 Belgium based players, 2 players in Spain, 2 players in Czech Republic, 2 from China, and 1 players each in England, Switzerland, Austria, Portugal, Scotland, USA, Greece, Israel and Norway.
Nigeria has players scattered across 12 nations, for Cameroon 14 nations. Each of the teams have 5 of their players playing for England and France respectively. Which is a good one. It is expected that these 5 players should be the best dependable mini squad inside the larger team, since they play in the same country. They have advantage of better understanding as well as better relationship and the likes. To win the 2010 World Cup Spain depended on 8 players from the same club and over 90 % of the entire team played in Spain. In the last match Nigeria played, South Africa was able to defeat them because majority of the players play in South Africa. So we can’t under emphasize the advantage of having larger percentage of your team from a certain zone.
However, in this situation Nigeria seems to have the better advantage. Although they both have 5 players from England and France respectively. Yet a further look into the details gives the advantage to Nigeria.
First, out of that 5 players, Nigeria has 3 playing in a single club (Ahmed Musa, Wilfred Ndidi, Kelechi Iheanchor, all of Leicester City). While the remaining two play for different clubs, Victor Moses of Chelsea and Ola Aina of Hull City.
Cameroon has all its 5 players in France doing businesses for different clubs; Toko Ekambi Karl (Angers, France), Franck Zambo Anguissa (Marseille, France), Teikeu Adolphe (FC Sochaux, France ) , Castelleto Jean Charles (Brest, France), Goda Jules (AC Ajaccio, France).
The second largest number of players converged in a zone for Nigeria is 4 (Turkey), and 3 for Cameroon (Belgium). Of that numbers, Nigeria still beats Cameroon for the advantage. 2 Nigerian players are in one club (Mikel Agu & Williams Ekong for Bursaspor). But the Cameroonians are scattered again three different clubs in Belgium.
Going further, Ediale Kingsley, tests for quality. What are the quality of the clubs hosting these 9 players for Nigeria (5 in England, 4 in Turkey) and 8 players for Cameroon (5 in France, 3 in Belgium)?
Chelsea 1st in EPL table last season
Leicester City 12th in EPL table last season
Hull City 18th and relegated from EPL last season.
Ogeni Onazi, Trabzorspor 6th in Super lig last season
Bursaspor 15th in Super lig last season
Elderson Echiejile, Sivasspor FC 1st in TFF first league, promoted to Super Lig
Marseille 5th in Ligue 1
Angers 12th in Ligue 1
Brest 5th in Ligue 2
AC Ajaccio 9th in Ligue 2
Sochaux 13th in Ligue 2
Siani Sebastien, KV Oostende 4th in Belgium
Fai Collins, Standard de Liège 9th in Belgium
Fabrice Olinga, Mouscron 15th in Belgium
As per quality we see that of the first 5 players Nigeria has only 1 player relegated to the 2nd division (Championship), other 4 are players in the competitive EPL. Of which 1, Victor Moses, was a heavy factor in making Chelsea the winners of the league last season. On the other hand, only 2 of the 5 Cameroonians playing in France, does so in the major league. None was part of the team that won the league in France.
So there you have it. By this in depth break down you know your chances, as a fan and as punter. You know it is unlikely for the matches to produce an over 4.5 goals. Very unlikely to have a goalless draw, that only happened 3 times between these teams in the past. And above all Nigeria has better chances of winning. Goal-goal is very risky, since it’s a 50-50.
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