ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT (Reuters) – Cutting out individual errors will be a priority for Nigeria when they take on holders Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations in Alexandria on Saturday, coach Gernot Rohr said on the eve of the last-16 match.
A defensive lapse from centre back Leon Balogun saw Nigeria concede early and go on to be upset 2-0 by Madagascar in their last group game.
It was result that relegated Nigeria to second place in the group and effectively set up a meeting with their neighbours and arch rivals in the first knockout round.
“I’m scared of us committing individual errors and I hope we won’t have individual errors again tomorrow that will cost us,” said Rohr, who is hoping the hiccup against the Malagasy might yet turn out to be a positive.
“The match against Madagascar was a little deception but we and the fans have learnt to be humble.”
He said the team wanted make amends after that disappointment.
“There were changes in the team to play some players and keep them in the rhythm of the competition, but now the best team have to start against Cameroon to do their best and make Nigeria proud,” the German-born coach added.
Nigeria and Cameroon have a long history of struggles for hegemony in the African game with the Super Eagles having the upper hand in their last contest, in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
“You know when you hear Cameroon and Nigeria there is always a sense of revenge,” he said.
“We know that Cameroon are very strong with good footballing education in France and we hope we can find their weak points,” he added.
“It is now that the real tournament is starting for us and we have seen the fixtures. All eight games are very difficult for everybody. Even for Egypt and of course for ourselves.”
Rohr confirmed captain John Mikel Obi is ruled out of the game because of injury.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Alison Williams)