By Nurudeen Obalola in Yaounde:
A former footballer and current coach of a youth team here in Yaounde, Jean-Claude Nguindjid, has identified the players he expects to play key roles when the Super Eagles and the Indomitable Lions clash in a World Cup qualifier in Uyo this evening, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
While most Cameroon fans here are tipping Vincent Aboubakar and Christian Bassogog to do the damage against Nigeria, Nguindjid has other ideas.
“Eric Choupo-Moting will be the key player for the Lions,” Hope Academy coach Nguindjid told Completesportsnigeria.com as he oversaw training on a dusty pitch just behind the Stade Omnisport.
“He has fighting spirit and leadership qualities. He’s a leader and also a very good player. Andre-Frank Anguissa too will play a key role for the Lions. He has heart and he’s a tough guy who is also a leader in the team.”
When asked what he thought about Bassogog and Aboubakar, Nguindjid replied: “Bassogog is good, quick, but he’s not one of the leaders in the team. In a match against a big rival like Nigeria, it’s the leaders that will make the difference.
“Aboubakar is a fine striker, but he’s not consistent. He blows hot and cold, so I’m not counting on him.”
Nguindjid, who spent 21 years coaching in Niger, Republic of Benin, Chad, Togo and Ghana before returning home to Cameroon four years ago, reckons Mikel Obi and one or two other players will be be important for the Super Eagles.
He said: “Mikel is a great captain. He brings calmness and composure to the team. He’s technically a very good player too and his passes will be important. He has the ability to talk to the young players and calm them down if they start to panic or lose focus.
“The Nigerian players in England are also very important. (Victor) Moses, (Wilfred) Ndidi and (Ahmed) Musa are used to playing big matches against big teams in the Premier League and that means they’ll be mentally ready for Cameroon. The Arsenal boy Alex Iwobi too, but you say he’s injured.”
Even as he hopes the Lions win in Uyo to keep their World Cup dreams alive, Nguindjid admits Nigeria are not easy to beat.
“Nigeria and Cameroon are two fine football countries and big rivals,” he said before taking a pause to blow his whistle and scold an apparently errant young boy.
“Nigeria have the advantage of playing at home, but when everything is fine with Cameroon we can win anywhere. Although Nigeria are ahead with four points, they’re still the ones under pressure because they will want to win at home.
“Besides, if they fail to beat Cameroon in Uyo and here, then their lead will shrink or disappear if Algeria, for instance, win home and away against Zambia. So Cameroon can still play for one point in Uyo and win here. If that happens, Nigeria will no longer be so comfortable.
“It would even be better for us if the Lions could win in Uyo but that is very difficult. If the Lions score first it would unsettle the Eagles, but in truth nobody goes to Nigeria expecting to win, not even Brazil.”
Nigeria lead Russia 2018 Africa qualifying Group B with six points from two matches while Cameroon are second with two points from the same number of matches. Zambia and Algeria, who also meet twice this week and next, have one point each.