For the diaspora of many African countries worldwide, the last few weeks have been exciting ones- the AFCON Cup 2023/24 is up for grabs as we've reached the quarter-finals round. AFCON is the African equivalent of the UEFA Champions League and is, in many ways, its less famous but equally exceptional younger sibling.

The news of victories, losses and goals has trickled down the pipeline from football-obsessed relatives and friends to those with a passing interest in football, like me. But what makes a good competition? Obviously, the calibre of the teams is crucial, the spirit of the fans and the atmosphere in the stadium equally so. But I think the most important is a good rivalry. The UK has Manchester City and Manchester United (becoming increasingly less contestable each year), the world has Ronaldo vs Messi -I'd prefer not to start a war - and Africa has Nigeria vs Ghana.

Our rivalry emerges in all sorts of ways- over who has the better jollof rice (Nigeria, objectively) or cultural wear. Most recently, it's been about our football teams. Although we haven't played matches against one another in AFCON so far, Ghana's unexpected tie to Egypt and Nigeria's 2-0 victory over Cameroon on the 27th of January leads some people to believe that the friendly enmity between our elevens has been resolved.

We all know how fun it is to have a peck at our rivals as long as we're all clear that's just what it is: banter. For most supporters, it's fun to jeer or mildly upsetting to be jeered at, but really, it's just a game- there shouldn't be any long-running bad blood.

Mustapha Oyekan, a Nigerian university student studying in Canada, agreed. When asked his opinions on the beef between Nigerian and Ghanaian fans, he replied, "In my experience, the beef is just a way to rile up the players, and it makes the game more interesting. Ghana and Nigeria's beef is a separate story because there is wider context behind it. I still think in the aspect of AFCON, its just a game."

A less widely known, but perhaps more apt rivalry with Nigeria, is Cameroon. Weighing in on the jollof rice debate, it is a newer, shinier team to oppose, with their football teams only just entering the spotlight. With Lookman scoring two unbelievable goals, will this beef be squashed? Will it continue to grow even after AFCON? Should we just hope for peace?

What I want you to take away from this article is this- a little rivalry is fine. It amps up the atmosphere, it motivates the players- in short, it's great. But we can never let this camaraderie turn sour, because that is when it takes a turn for the worse.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to watch (or rather, be forced to listen to) my father's breakdown of any games played today. Onwards and upwards, Super Eagles!