The Super Eagles of Nigeria and the Desert Foxes of Algeria are gearing up for a titanic clash in Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations semi-final tie at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
Many are already predicting an explosive match between these two teams going by the intense rivalry spanning over 45 years.
Three-time champions Nigeria are looking for their fourth title since winning their first on home soil at the expense of Algeria in 1980.
Interestingly, the Algerians are looking for their second Afcon title since the only one won on home soil at the expense of Nigeria in 1990.
Going by previous encounters between the Eagles and the Desert Foxes which has always provided tremendous sparks, there is very little to separate these two enterprising teams.
Slight edge for Nigeria
In the head-to-head record, Nigeria has won eight of the previous encounters while Algeria had won seven, with five drawn.
After Nigeria swept to Africa Cup of Nations glory on the back of a 3-0 thumping of the Foxes in Lagos in 1980, the North Africans got their pound of flesh in the next set of games against Nigeria.
Algeria not only stopped Nigeria from reaching the 1982 World Cup, beating the Eagles home and away for their first-ever FIFA World Cup ticket, but they also edged Nigeria 2-1 in a group phase match at the 1982 Africa Cup of Nations in Libya.
At the 1984 and 1988 Africa Cup of Nations, their matches were drawn, though the Eagles prevailed on penalty shoot-out in the latter as it was a semi-final match and a winner had to emerge.
Nigeria also stopped Algeria reaching the Men’s Football Tournament of the 1988 Olympics, beating the North Africans 2-0 in Enugu after a lone goal reverse in Annaba, for a 2-1 aggregate win.
In 1990, Algeria hosted the AFCON and opened with a 5-1 spanking of Nigeria, before again pipping Nigeria by the odd goal in the final match.
Three years later, Nigeria would stop Algeria qualifying for the World Cup, beating the Foxes 4-1 in Lagos and drawing 1-1 in Algiers for their own first-ever FIFA World Cup ticket.
At the 2002 AFCON in Mali, Nigeria pipped Algeria 1-0 in a group phase match
It was the same scoreline eight years later at the AFCON hosted by Angola, with the victory this time earning Nigeria the bronze medals.
Recently, in 2017, Nigeria stopped Algeria from qualifying for the FIFA World Cup, as they bashed the Foxes 3-1 in Uyo and tied the second leg in Constantine 1-1 before FIFA awarded the match to Algeria. This was after the Eagles fielded an ineligible defender, Abdullahi Shehu.
Both teams have secured their best wins over each other on Algerian soil. Algeria’s 5-1 win over Nigeria was in Algiers, in the opening match of the 17th Africa Cup of Nations. Nigeria’s 5-2 win over Algeria was in Oran, in a 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying match.
At the ongoing 32nd Africa Cup of Nations, the tactically sound Foxes have conquered every opposition including Africa’s number one –ranked team Senegal, Guinea, and Cote d’Ivoire among others.
On their part, the Super Eagles have also inspired some level of confidence with their matured approach to big games which helped them eject Cup holders Cameroon and thereafter South Africa.
Coach of the Foxes, Djamel Belmadi, made it clear on Saturday that his wards are aiming for the trophy and would like to pay Nigeria back for stopping them from reaching the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals.
On his part, Coach Gernot Rohr says the defeat by Madagascar has rudely awakened his Eagles to the approach they must adopt to win each game, by not under-rating any team. He believes the same will be deployed against the Foxes on Sunday night.
The winner on Sunday night will proceed to the final match of the biggest-ever Africa Cup of Nations championship, billed for the Cairo International Stadium on the night of Friday, July 19, against the winner of the first semi-final between Senegal and Tunisia.
Head-to-Head NIGERIA & ALGERIA AT SENIOR LEVEL
10 Jan 1973: Nigeria 2 Algeria 2 – Lagos (All-Africa Games)
28 July 1978: Algeria 1 Nigeria 0 – Algiers (All-Africa Games Final)
22 March 1980: Nigeria 3 Algeria 0 – Lagos (AFCON Final)
10 Oct 1981: Nigeria 0 Algeria 2 – Lagos (World Cup Qualifier)
30 Oct 1981: Algeria 2 Nigeria 1 – Constantine (World Cup Qualifier)
10 March 1982: Algeria 2 Nigeria 1 – Benghazi (AFCON)
11 March 1984: Algeria 0 Nigeria 0 – Bouake (AFCON)
15 Jan 1988: Algeria 1 Nigeria 0 – Annaba (Olympics Qualifier)
30 Jan 1988: Nigeria 2 Algeria 0 – Enugu (Olympics Qualifier)
23 March 1988: Algeria 1 Nigeria 1 – Rabat (AFCON semi, 8-9 penalties)
2 March 1990: Algeria 5 Nigeria 1 – Algiers (AFCON)
16 March 1990: Algeria 1 Nigeria 0 – Algiers (AFCON Final)
13 July 1993: Nigeria 4 Algeria 1 – Lagos (World Cup Qualifier)
8 Oct 1993: Algeria 1 Nigeria 1 – Algiers (World Cup Qualifier)
21 Jan 2002: Algeria 0 Nigeria 1 – Bamako (AFCON)
3 July 2004: Nigeria 1 Algeria 0 – Abuja (World Cup Qualifier)
4 Sept 2005: Algeria 2 Nigeria 5 – Oran (World Cup Qualifier)
30 Jan 2010: Algeria 0 Nigeria 1 – Benguela (AFCON)
12 Nov 2016: Nigeria 3 Algeria 1 – Uyo (World Cup Qualifier)
11 Nov 2017: Algeria 1 Nigeria 1 – Constantine (World Cup Qualifier). Match later awarded 3-0 to Algeria as Nigeria fielded ineligible player.