Kenneth Omueruo, has admitted that they expect a tough test against Ivory Coast when both sides faceoff in the second game of their Africa Cup of Nations Group A encounter, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
The Eagles and the Elephants will meet for the fifth time at the AFCON — which is broadcast live in Nigeria by StarTimes — competition at the Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara in Ebimpe, Abidjan on Thursday.
A win for the hosts, who currently top the group with three points following their 2-0 win over Guinea Bissau in their opening game, will guarantee them a spot in the round of 16 and possibly spell doom for Nigeria, who played a 1-1 with Equatorial Guinea on Monday.
However, the previous six encounters between the two countries have always been feisty, with Nigeria winning on three occasions, losing two.
With very little to separate both sides, Omeruo said the Eagles will face a tough challenge on Thursday.
“We expect a tough game because the Ivorians are the hosts and they are also top of our group. But we have our aspirations as well and we believe in ourselves,” Omeruo said.
The first encounter between Nigeria and Ivory Coast at the AFCON was in 1980 at the National Stadium, Surulere with the game ending goalless.
Ten years later, both countries again clashed in the group phase of AFCON, with the late Rashidi Yekini scoring the match’s only goal after just three minutes in Annaba, Algeria.
In 1994, the two countries met in the semi-finals at the Stade El Menzah in Tunisia. The game ended in a penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw. Yekini scored the winning penalty for the Eagles, who later went on to win the tournament.
The Ivorians got their revenge in 2006 as they beat Nigeria 1-0 in the semi-finals in Alexandria. Two years later, the Ivorians were again 1-0 winners after Salomon Kalou scored the only goal in a group phase encounter in the Ghanaian city of Sekondi.
In 2013, on their way to a third triumph, the Eagles edged the Elephants 2-1 in a quarter-final tie at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.