Afcon 2019: Garba Lawal urges Nigeria to play as a team against Cameroon

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The former international has appealed to the Nigerian team to play as a unit and display the right attitude to beat the Indomitable Lions

Ex-Nigeria International Garba Lawal believes  Super Eagles are capable of beating any side at the   2019 Africa Cup of Nations  - including  Cameroon  - if they show the right attitude and play as a team.

Lawal claims Nigeria's loss to Madagascar was a one-off and on current form they have what it takes to beat the Indomitable Lions.

He, however, opined that they must do so with determination and willingness to make sacrifices for one another on the pitch, from the beginning until the end of the game.

“I don’t think it will be right for us to judge the Eagles based on their loss to Madagascar because situations like that happen in football and one cannot help it if it does,” Lawal told Goal .

“I have the conviction that these Eagles can beat any team if they decide to play as a team and play with the right attitude. The attitude was poor against Madagascar and I also admit that we have not been playing too well in the current Afcon.

Cameroon will provide the right test for us because they are rough and will be very tough to beat as the defending champions of the competition. The Eagles must play with the right composure and calmness and they must be ready to make sacrifices because Cameroon will not give up so easily.”

Lawal who featured in four Afcon finals and won a gold medal with the Nigeria Under-23 team at the 1996 Olympic Games, said he was thrilled with the way they dealt with Cameroon at the quarter-final stage of the 2004 Afcon in Tunisia.

It was the former Roda JC midfielder who initiated the pass from which Nwankwo Kanu fed John Utaka to score Nigeria’s winning goal against the Indomitable Lions on the day.

“I will say one of my memorable moments as a player was our win over Cameroon at the 2004 Nations Cup because many tipped them to beat us but we went into the game with the right attitude and didn’t allow what others were saying affect us,” he recalled.

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“I still remember what coach Christian Chukwu told me then that I should do a man-marking job on Geremi Njitap who they considered as their engine-room and he also told us other football tactics that we deployed and they worked well. We didn’t allow Cameroon to enjoy their game and even though they took the lead we knew we were capable of coming back.

“Austin Okocha started it with his sublime free-kick which sailed into the net for the equaliser just before half time. The second goal was very magnificent. I can’t recall how I collected the pass but I know that Kanu received a good pass from me and he was able to put Utaka on the run and he finished up the job with the second goal.

“We can achieve the same thing too on Saturday but our players must be ready to play as a team and they must show the right mental attitude too. Cameroon will be tough but we can beat them with enough seriousness.”