As the crucial round of 16 encounter between Nigeria and Cameroon draws nearer, the Super Eagles have started perfecting the act of penalty kicks in the case the match on Saturday ends in deadlock.
A camp source disclosed that Gernot Rohr started plotting strategies for the knockout stages moments after the last group stage match on Sunday.
Although media men and fans were locked out of most of the greater part of the training session, it was gathered that all the players were made to practice penalty shoot-outs and free kicks.
“When we started, we were able to achieve 65 percent hit on target three percent against the post and the rest was an outright miss but now the percentage has improved to 92 percent. This means going into shoot-out in Saturday’s match should be positive to the team if all the selected players are in their right frame of mind towards the kick,” an official of the team disclosed yesterday.
The official could however not ascertain which of the three goalkeepers could be the option for the shoot-out.
“At random, I cannot say whom among the three goalkeepers is our best bet for the match if we go into shoot outs. All the three have their shares of stopping penalty kicks with no clear dominance of anyone”, he said.
Nigeria lost on penalties to Cameroon at the National Stadium in Lagos in the final match of the 2000 AFCON tournament after Victor Ikpeba’s kick was controversially ruled no goal by the referee after the ball hit the bar and crossed the line but the referee ruled it no goal.
Both Nigeria and Cameroon led their respective groups until their last matches. While the Eagles surrendered Group B leadership to Madagascar on Sunday, Cameroon on Tuesday also couldn’t consolidate their leadership as they were held 0-0 by Benin Republic.