By Ori Martins

In all, Nigeria and Cameroon have met 25 times. Nigeria won 12, drew eight and lost five. 

For the African Nations Cup, both the Super Eagles and Indomitable Lions have slugged it out on eight memorable occasions of which both sides emerged victorious thrice and two draws. 


It must be confirmed here that Cameroon has never beaten Nigeria outside the final in the history of the African Nations Cup Finals. Therefore, Cameroon battles a perennial jinx against Nigeria. It may likely continue in Cote d'Ivore this year.


Football pundits have maintained that there is a chemistry of mystery subsisting in the Nigeria, Cameroon Nations Cup encounters. 

For instance, the first time the Lions and the Eagles tested supremacy was on March 18, 1984 in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire. It was the final of the Nations Cup. The revelation of that competition was Chibuzor Ehilegbu. It was Ehilegbu who destroyed then defending champions, Ghana, and contributed immensely to Nigeria's massive successes en route to the final. 

In a technical approach quite unfathomable, the coach, Adegboye Onigbinde, dramatically benched Ehilegbu in the sensational final game against Cameroon. Not only that, Onigbinde, to the disappointment of Nigerians, brought in Patrick Okala as against Peter Rufuai who had been quite excellent in all other games. In what still appears more mysterious than all the above, Onigbinde deployed the beautiful and enterprising Henry Nwosu too deep in the defensive midfield just as Fantastic Muda Lawal was given more roles in the right midfield than his usual central midfield activities. In the end, the wingless Eagles were easily devoured by the rampaging Lions, 3 - 1!!!  


First, Muda Lawal possessed a certain mystical, magical as well mysterious powers with which he controlled Eagles goal scoring mechanism, and it almost went unnoticed. Informed global football historian and Africa's most capped Wold Cup journalist, Kunle Solaja, has chronicled in full details how no other Nigerian player ever scored, once Muda Lawal first hit the target. The only exception was in the opening game against Tanzania in 1980 Nations Cup in Logos where he got the opener and the Eagles still got two more goals. 

In all his other goals, once Muda Lawal scored, it was all over as no other Nigerian would ever be registered on the scorers sheet. Therefore, on March 18, 1984, Muda's goal meant that the game could have ended 1 - 0 in favour of Nigeria or any score draw. However it was never to be. Cameroon equalized and went ahead to score two more goals. 

Again, exactly four years after, in Marco '88, Nigeria and Cameroon met in the final, after settling for a one all draw in a group match. 

Another football mystery   was recorded when Henry Nwosu's brilliant header caught the Lions safe hands napping but the referee not only disallowed the goal but shockingly awarded a controversial penalty to Cameroon which was neatly converted by captain Emmanuel Kunde. 

And in 2000, CAF fixed the final of the Nations Cup encounter between Nigeria and Cameroon on February 13 and the NFF never objected it. The former head of state and civil war hero, General Murtala Muhammed was assassinated on February 13, 1976!!! What a coincidence? That day, at the National Stadium, Surulere, Logos, Cameroon got two first half goals which were cancelled late in the first half and early in the second stanza. Yet, during the pulsating penalty shootout, Victor Ikpeba scored his kick but gave it away through his body language of regrets. And so, Cameroon won, 5-3.

Keshi's Involvement

 It was Stephen Keshi that actually calibrated and energized Cameroon against Nigeria in the finals of Nations Cup. 

In 1984, when Cameroon triumphed against Nigeria, Keshi swapped his shirts with that of Cameroon captain, Stephen Tawtaw as the later climbed the podium to lift the Nations Cup for his country for the first time. 

The same scenario played out in 1988 in Morocco when Cameroon controversially defeated Nigeria. The same Keshi gave his jersey to Emmanuel Kunde who also savoured the Nations Cup in the national colours of Nigeria. And in 2000 in Lagos, Keshi watched helplessly as captain Sunday Oliseh and Song exchanged their shirts while the Lion lifted the Nations Cup for Nigeria. Thus, Cameroon's five Nations Cup successes had not just been at the expense of Nigeria but also in the green - white - green attire of the Super Eagles!!! 

Meanwhile Keshi watched from the stands in Senegal '92 as the Eagles tamed the Lions in a third place game. Several years after, Keshi was already dead as Nigeria once more made non sense of Cameron in 2019, 3-2.


Nigeria has not been very fantastic, so far, but Cameroon is worse off. What counts against the Eagles is their inability to score much goals but they have not been conceding  much either - Cameroon converts her chances but  allows much goals. The fact that Cameroon has never beaten Nigeria in the history of the African Nations Cup besides the final games will still count in this crucial encounter.

Nigeria will win. At least, Since 1980, Nigeria has gone to the semi finals than any other team. The only exceptions are the Libya '82 edition and   Ghana 2008 where Black Stars bundled out Super Eagles early in the tournament.