CAIRO - Two derbies will add spice to the Africa Cup of Nations round of 16 as Nigeria and Cameroon renew their often bitter rivalry while Ivory Coast face a Mali side who have done a lot of catching up on their neighbours recently.
Nigeria and Cameroon do not meet that often - tomorrow’s match in Alexandria will be their 23rd clash - but the sparks tend to fly when they do, especially as three of those matches have been in AFCON finals with Cameroon winning all of them.
The Super Eagles were furious in the 1988 final when Henry Nwosu had a goal disallowed in a match Cameroon won 1-0.
Twelve years later, the two played an epic final in Lagos when Nigeria hit back from two goals behind to draw 2-2, only to lose 4-3 on penalties. However, replays showed that Victor Ikpeba’s missed spot kick for Nigeria should have been allowed because the ball crossed the line after hitting the bar.
Overall, Cameroon have won 11 of the 22 matches to Nigeria’s four although the Super Eagles qualified for last year’s World Cup at their rivals’ expense after a 4-0 win at home and 1-1 draw away.
Mali have not beaten Ivory Coast since 1983, and have won only three out of 18 meetings, but the two sides, who meet in Suez on Monday, seem to be heading in opposite directions.
Ivory Coast’s golden generation have retired while Mali have one of the most exciting squads at the tournament, with nearly all their players based in Europe’s top five leagues, particularly France.
Uganda go into today’s match against Senegal after the federation (FUFA) said it had settled a pay dispute with the players.
Benin, who have reached the knockout stages for the first time at the fourth attempt, face a solid Morocco team, who won all their group games 1-0, in today’s other game.
Newcomers Madagascar, still unbeaten at the finals, meet Democratic Republic of Congo in Alexandria on Sunday, while Algeria, arguably the most impressive team of the tournament, face Guinea the same day.
The match between Ghana against Tunisia on Monday could go to penalties if the group stage is anything to go by as Ghana drew two of their matches and Tunisia all three.Reuters