Nigeria and Algeria will clash for the 21st time at senior men’s level tonight in the semi final at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) which promises lots of fireworks inside the main bowl of the Cairo International Stadium in Egypt.
Nigeria’s Super Eagles are looking for their fourth title since winning their first on home soil at the expense of Desert Foxes of Algeria in 1980, while the Algerians are looking for their second gong since their only title won on home soil at the expense of Nigeria in 1990.
Previous encounters between the Eagles and the Desert Foxes have always provided tremendous sparks, and the nature and balance of the rivalry is reflected in the record which shows that Nigeria has won eight of the previous encounters, while Algeria had won seven, with five drawn.
After Nigeria swept to AFCON glory on the back of a 3-0 lashing of the Foxes in Lagos in 1980, the Foxes got their pound of flesh by not only stopping Nigeria from reaching the 1982 World Cup, beating the Eagles home and away for their first –ever FIFA World Cup ticket, but also edging Nigeria 2-1 in a group phase match at the 1982 AFCON in Libya.
At the 1984 and 1988 Africa Cup of Nations, their matches were drawn, though the Eagles prevailed on pen- alty 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 event 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 pipping Nigeria again 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, and it was the same scoreline eight years later at the AFCON hosted by Angola, with victory,
this time, earning Nigeria the bronze medals.
Most recently, in 2017, Nigeria stopped Algeria from qualifying for the FIFA World Cup, as the Super Eagles bashed the Foxes 3-1 in Uyo and tied the second leg in Constantine 1-1 before FIFA awarded the match to Algeria after the Eagles fielded ineligible defender, Abdullahi Shehu.