Nigeria faced a tricky Cape Verde side for a place at the top of Group C in the African World Cup qualifiers. Nigeria came home to the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos with 12 points from five games while Cape Verde follow them with 10 points. Coach Gernot Rohr, famed for his ponderous decisions, brought Jude Ighalo back into the frame for the Super Eagles, much to the chagrin of pundits. The German even started him in the must-win tie. He also started his team in the new 3-5-2 formation he has been experimenting with.
In the first minute, Victor Osimhen opened the scoring for Nigeria. The striker pounced on a mistake at the back before slotting home. That’s now 15 goals in 21 games this season for the Napoli striker. The Blue Sharks returned fire minutes later. William Troost-Ekong lost his man from a corner kick and Stopira snuck ahead to stab the goal home on 6. Ighalo then missed two glorious chances to put the Super Eagles ahead while Joe Aribo had a good shot saved by Vozinha. Leon Balogun could have done better when Moses Simon’s corner kick found his head but he headed off-target.
The second half was more end-to-end but there was no goalmouth action. Cape Verde cleaned up well when a Jamiu Collins cross nearly found Osimhen and Maduka Okoye had to rush out to prevent Qarabağ midfielder Patrick Andrade from going through on goal. It ended in a tepid 1-1 draw that was decided in the sixth minute. The Super Eagles make it to the playoffs
Who will join them in the AfricanWorld Cup playoffs?
Egypt, Senegal, Ghana, Morocco, DR Congo, Mali, Algeria, and Nigeria have emerged as the top teams in their groups. Group B is undecided with Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, and Zambia with possibilities of qualification. There is still the heavyweight tie between Cameroon and the Ivory Coast later tonight to settle matters. All ten teams will be paired in March. The five winning teams automatically qualify for Qatar 2022