Nigeria vs Cameroon – 2000 AFCON Final Data Analysis

Nigeria 2-2 Cameroon (Cameroon win 4-3 on penalties)

African Cup of Nations Final

February 12th, 2000

Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, Nigeria

By Ally Bain (@allybain)

Data Analysis

Value of Chances

xG Timeline:

There are a number of interesting things about the time, the first of which being that all four goals occurred during the opening 46 minutes of play which, in terms of overall attack play, was arguably the most sparce period of efforts on goal during the match (Nigeria 5 shots and Cameroon 7 shots). While both teams were neck and neck for long periods of the 1st half, we can see that Cameroon’s attack play was more consistent than their opponents, but also carried more of a threat with almost a full expected goal separating the sides until extra time.  Nigeria would go almost 30 minutes in the 2nd half without registering an attack, but would come back in extra time to record a significant cluster of attacks. When examining this further we can see from the smaller upticks that many of these were speculative efforts and carried little to no threat.

Chance Quality:

We can see from the spikes in the graph that both sides registered attacks that carried decent chance creation value (the longer the peaks the higher the probability), however when we analyze what Opta defines as a Big Chance (A situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score) we see that only 1 was created in the match and it fell to Samuel Eto’o who duly headed in Cameroon’s opening goal.

When examining quality we also have to take into account the amount of efforts on goal vs on target. We can see that Nigeria have had more shots on target from a fewer number of efforts, but in addition to this we also see they had a lower overall xG value despite their higher amount of shots testing the keeper. Simply put Nigeria had more success shooting from distance, therefore shots with lower probability of scoring were being saved, however we will see later in the shot graphs how this helps us understand which side carried more threat in the match.

Type of Chances Created

Nigeria would create 10 of their 14 shots on goal, and when we examine the key pass locations we can see there is a decent spread of creativity across the field. Babayaro would create 3 efforts from service on the left, where as 2nd half sub Babangida would create 3 chances of his own from the right. This highlights not only the variety of attacks the Nigerians were able to create, but also the prowess of the individuals conducting the creation. When we examine the types of key passes in the match we see that the highest number of attacks came from Switches of Play, which comes in the form of a horizontal cross/pass to allow the Oliseh and Okocha to shoot from distance (4 in total), and a traditional cross into the box for Kanu, Chukwu or Ikpeba to attack (3 in total).

Cameroon would also create 10 shots in the match, from an increased 18 shots on goal, however they would heavily favor the right hand side of the field with Geremi generating 5 key passes from wide areas. The cross into the box was Cameroon’s preferred movement to generate attacks, with 4 in total turning into shots on goal.

When we examine the patterns of play that would lead to shots on goal we see that both sides favored a build up play approach (23 shots in total during the match), with only 1 counter attack shot being registered in the match from either side. This likely speaks to a culture within African football to maintain possession, largely based on the temperatures and the requirement to preserve energy. When we break down the build up play attacks it tells us more about the performance of both sides, with Nigeria seeing 7 of their 11 build up chances hit the target, where as Cameroon were only able to test the keeper with 2 of their 12 build play chances.

Interestingly when we look at how each team faired on set pieces Cameroon would come out on top, with 2 of their 4 chances hitting the target (1 of which resulting in an Eto’o goal) with Nigeria failing to turn any of their 2 efforts into a chance on target. Its these fine margins that allowed Cameroon to maintain a foothold in a match where their opposition perhaps got the better of them during open play.

Where Chances are Created

In this section it allows us to consider a number of factors when evaluating attacking performance, the first well look at here is each teams numbers inside the box, specifically the central portion. We call this area the golden zone, such is the probability of a goal being scored inside this location, therefore when we boil down the game into performance within this area we see each side has recorded 4 shots with 2 on target. The two efforts each side recorded on target would equate to 1 goal and forcing the opposition keeper into a save a piece.

Out with the central portion we see that Cameroon would score their 2nd of the match inside the left portion of the 18 yard box, where as Nigeria could only record to shots on target. The equalizing factor for Nigeria would come in chances outside the box, with 3 efforts hitting the target to Cameroon’s zero, but more importantly it would be Jay Jay Okocha’s rasping effort from distance that would keep the Super Eagles in the match at 2-2.

So if there was little to separate the sides in attacking output lets delve deeper into the xG (chance creation value), and lets look specifically at those shots on target. So we’ve established that Nigeria would have 7 shots on target to Cameroon’s 4, however when we look at the value of these attacks (the probability of them turning into a goal) we see a very different story. Nigeria’s 7 shots on target are valued at 0.68 xG, so in theory the sum total of these efforts gave them a 68% chance of scoring. In comparison Cameroon’s 4 shots are valued at 0.78 xG, giving them a sum total of 78% chance of scoring. This therefore shows that while Cameroon had less efforts they carried a higher threat from their chances.

Overall the margins in this match were extremely fine, with both sides giving as good as they had, but while finals this close always threaten to disappoint a 4 goal game and a penalty shootout thriller secures this game as one of the best matches we’ve covered on the site.

Who Created Chances

Jay Jay Okocha would finish as Nigeria’s best statistical attacker, taking part in 3 attacks with 2 of those hitting the target, and 1 converting into a goal. While his personal xG for the match was 0.28, what he’ll be remembered for most is his wonderful strike from distance that would sail into the top corner. A truly remarkable goal.

Kanu would finish as Nigeria’s best statistical creator with only 2 key passes, however both would end up creating a shot on target, one of which was to lay on Raphael Chukwu for the opening goal.

Samuel Eto’o was Cameroon’s best statistical attacker, recording 5 shots on goal with an xG of 0.85 (54% of this teams overall xG value). While Eto’o was a constant threat throughout the match with his pace and aerial ability, 2 of his 5 efforts hit the target, with the first creating the opening goal of the game from a fine header.

Geremi was by far Cameroon’s best statistical creator in the game, with 5 key passes in total. He was a constant presence on the right wing, and would offer an array of crossing opportunities for M’Boma and Eto’o to attack.

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