It is one of football’s biggest rivalries. Neighbours Nigeria and Cameroon have won the Africa Cup of Nations title eight times between them. The Indomitable Lions got three of those title wins against the Super Eagles.
On February 13, 2000, the last one happened when the Lions snatched the title in front of a home crowd inside Lagos’ National Stadium. Striker Terem Moffi, who scored 14 goals for Lorient in the French Ligue 1 this season and expected to make his debut on Friday night, was a toddler at the time.
A generation of Nigerian footballers has grown up only hearing stories about the painful losses of the past. Since that millennial heartbreak, Nigeria have won five of six encounters, except for a 1-1 draw in Yaounde in 2017 on their way to picking their group’s sole 2018 FIFA World Cup ticket.
Hence, there is a lot of confidence among the lads going into the double friendly against the Lions in Wiener Neustadt, Austria, to continue the trend.
“Growing up, I heard about Nigeria versus Cameroon from my father, and it is always a rivalry because they are our neighbours. It has always been a big game, and nothing changes that,” Moffi told Soccernet.ng in Vienna.
The last encounter between the teams ended in a 3-2 win for the Super Eagles at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt. Before then, Nigeria thrashed Cameroon 3-0 in 2015 friendly and 4-0 in World Cup qualifying in 2017.
“We have had the upper hand of recent and we hope to keep it that way and win (on June 4 and June 8). We’re taking it seriously because our pride is at stake,” said the 22-year-old.
In a breakthrough season that saw him score a hattrick against Bordeaux, a brace against Monaco and a winning goal against PSG, Moffi is happy at being part of the Super Eagles.
“We had a difficult start to the season at Lorient. We didn’t do as well as we wanted initially, but we found our feet, and I scored important goals,” said Moffi.
“I remember getting the call up from Gernot Rohr. He sent me a message after a hat trick I scored (against Bordeaux). He congratulated me and said he hopes to see me in the next FIFA international break, and he is sending an invite to me.
“I didn’t know what to say. I had to screenshot the message and send it to my family group chat to see it because I had no clue of an answer to give to him. It was amazing; I was quite surprised.
“As a footballer, you want to play for your national team. It was a dream come true for me,” he said.
The first game will take place at the 10,000-seater Wiener Neustadt Stadion at 20:30 CET (7:30 pm WAT in Nigeria and Cameroon). Catch the game via Soccernet’s live text commentary.