Completesportsnigeria.com’s JAMES AGBEREBI highlights five important lessons the Super Eagles ought to learn from Cameroon’s unexpected 2017 Africa Cup of Nations triumph as both teams look ahead to their 2018 World Cup qualifying clashes later this year…
1. RUSSIA 2018 TICKET NOT YET IN THE BAG
The Super Eagles sit top of Group B on six points after two games in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
But despite the Super Eagles being four points ahead, the performance of the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon which saw them crowned African champions in Gabon is an indication that nothing is decided.
And it is important to note that Cameroon will be full of confidence going into August qualifiers.
2. CAMEROON’S AFCON SUCCESS A WAKE-UP CALL
The fact that Cameroon emerged champions in Gabon should be a positive sign for the Super Eagles.
A poor outing for Cameroon would have created a sense of false belief for the Eagles which would have been detrimental to their chance of qualifying for the World Cup.
The Eagles failed to qualify for the last two AFCONs (2015 and 2017) despite being drawn with countries like South Africa, Congo, Sudan, Tanzania and Chad.
But with Cameroon as champions, this would make the Eagles prepare extra hard.
3. A TEAM CAN SUCCEED WITHOUT ITS BIG-NAME PLAYERS
Following the withdrawal of players like Allan Nyom, Joel Matip, Andre Onana and Ibrahim Amadou, it was believed that Cameroon would struggle to even get out of their 2017 AFCON group.
But the Indomitable Lions not only qualified at the expense of hosts Gabon, they went all the way to become African champions.
The Eagles technical crew can learn a lot from what Cameroon achieved by ignoring whoever is not ready to honour the national call.
Aside from emulating what Cameroon did, they can also copy what the late Stephen Keshi did at the 2013 AFCON where he dropped stars like Taye Taiwo, Osaze Odemwingie and Obafemi Martins but still went on to win the AFCON.
4. EAGLES MUST LEARN TO COPE WITH CAMEROON’S PACE AND POWER
If there is one thing the Super Eagles must deal with come August, it is Cameroon’s pace and physical approach.
Over the years Cameroon have always relied in their physical style of football which has seen them win five AFCON titles, an Olympic football gold and seven appearances at the senior World Cup.
But the good thing is that despite their physical approach, they can be tamed. And the Eagles are no strangers to the Cameroonians following past encounters between both teams which always readily comes to mind.
5. NEVER UNDERRATE THE HUNGRY LIONS
Cameroon showed at the 2017 AFCON that they remain one of Africa’s biggest teams.
Following their absence at the 2013 AFCON and their group stage elimination at the 2015 edition, Cameroon proved that they can never be underrated.
Going into the 2017 AFCON, the likes of Cote d’Ivoire, Algeria, Ghana, Egypt and Senegal were tipped for glory with Cameroon sidelined.
But to the amazement of all, Cameroon took out all the fancied teams to become African champions for the fifth time.