AFCON 2021: Nigeria on course for AFCON 2000 revenge ?
The roadmap has been set for the Super Eagles of Nigeria to eventually get their revenge against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon.
In 2002 when Nigeria co-hosted the Africa Cup of Nations with Ghana, the Super Eagles were the heavy favourites but fell to a wrong decision made by Tunisian referee Mourad Daami in the final.
Cameroon raced to a 2-0 lead, Patrick Mboma and Samuel Eto’o scored the goals to shock Nigeria fans at the National Stadium in Lagos and those watching or listening from home.
Before half time, South-Africa based Ralph Chukwu pulled one and Austin Okocha scored a powerful shot two minutes into the second half.
At the end of the 90 minutes and 30 minutes extra time both teams were tied at 2-2 and we headed for penalties.
Austin Okocha, Godwin Opara and Sunday Oliseh scored their penalties for Nigeria, but Nwankwo Kanu missed, Victor Ikpeba’s attempt wrongly called.
Victor Ikpeba’s miss was the talking point as his shot crossed the goal line but Tunisian referee Mourad Daami ruled in favour of Cameroon.
Maybe the Tunisian referee Mourad Daami decision was helped by Victor Ikpeba’s reaction after he took the penalty and if there was a VAR it would have been a different story.
Captain Rigobert Song stepped up to score the winner for Cameroon to silence the crowd at the stadium, those of us watching from home and many who were listening to the commentaries on radio.
It was a day we were never forget in the history of Nigerian football.
I remember reading the newspaper the following day to find out that a couple Nigeria football football fans died of hypertension from the game.
Fast forward, it is 2022, the 2021 edition is hosted in Cameroon, the Indomitable Lions and Super Eagles have been placed on different sides of the draw for a potential final clash.
But first, Nigeria must beat Tunisia in the second round, beat the winners of the clash between Burkina Faso v Gabon in the quarterfinal.
Then beat the winners of these games in the semi final [(Senegal v Cape Verde) v (Mali v Equatorial Guinea)].
While Cameroon must also beat Comoros in the second round, the winners of Guinea v Gambia in the quarterfinals and the winners from [(Morocco v Malawi) v (Ivory Coast v Egypt)].
It is still a long shot, but this is the final that all Nigerian football fans will be looking to see, and not just seeing it but for Nigeria to beat Cameroon in front of their fans.