“How many of our current players understand the rivalry between Nigeria and Cameroon?” asks former Super Eagles midfielder Seyi Olofinjana.
The former Wolves and Stoke City player spoke exclusively to aclsports.com at the Jack Hayward training complex in Wolverhampton where he is part of his former club’s U23s coaching team. “Never mind the players, how about the coaches? The current set of Administrators in the NFF, the many people in the sporting press, how many remember this rivalry?” he asks some more.
In the nearly an hour of the interview, Olofinjana was very particular about the culture that currently exists in Nigerian football and sports in general and how important it is changed for the good of the athletes/footballers and then the country as a whole. “With a match as important as this World Cup qualifier and against foes like Cameroon it will help to concentrate the focus of the players if the rivalry has been drummed into them as they prepare”.
Cameroon are reigning African Champions who know that historically they have a superb record over Nigeria. They come into these round of World Cup qualifiers knowing that 6 points will put them in a great position to qualify. Nigeria’s last victory over Cameroon in a competitive tie was during the 2004 AFCON in Tunisia. Olofinjana remembers it “That was probably my best match in a Super Eagles jersey. We were determined not to lose that day” he recalls. Cameroon as defending champions were overwhelming favourites in that quarter-final tie and it seemed to be going to plan when Samue Eto’o gave them the lead.
The Super Eagles rallied through a delicious JJ Okocha free kick equalised before John Utaka kept his head to score the winner. “With the talent we had and following that win over Cameroon we really should have gone on to win that tournament” Olofinjana says.
The team that will be out on the Uyo Stadium on the 1st of September know they have a big task on their hands. South Africa had been the last visitors and they made themselves quite comfortable before leaving with a 2 nil victory. That was in the 2019 AFCON qualifier, similar result this time around will damage Nigeria’s chances of being in Russia.
“We have missed the last two AFCONs, it will be very bad if we miss this World Cup too. The NFF need to understand that these things can’t continue to happen to a country like ours”. Seyi Olofinjana not in doubt on where the responsibilities lie.
Below is a video snippet of the interview:[/vc_column_text]