Nigeria and Cameroon will face off in the Africa Cup of Nations round of 16 at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium on Saturday.
The Super Eagles secured the second spot in Group A, trailing behind Equatorial Guinea. Rigobert Song’s team advanced to the knockout stage with a late comeback against The Gambia, finishing second in Group C behind Senegal.
In their final Group A match against winless Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria struggled to impress, but Jose Peseiro’s squad managed to secure maximum points, finishing with seven points and securing qualification in the second position.
Despite being the top creators in the competition, producing more clear-cut chances (13) than the other 23 teams, the Super Eagles have faced challenges in scoring goals at AFCON 2023, finding the net only three times. Victor Osimhen, the African Footballer of the Year, has struggled with finishing in matches against Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Guinea-Bissau. His expected goals (xG) underperformance is the most significant at the continental showpiece.
As the competition progresses to the crucial stage, Nigeria needs Osimhen to return to top form, especially since relying solely on defensive performance may be risky if scoring opportunities are not converted.
Coach Peseiro is aware of this issue and has cautioned his team to enhance their execution in the knockout rounds to avoid an early elimination. Whether any changes will be observed against the Indomitable Lions on Saturday remains to be seen.