Race for Russia 2018: Zambia’s Win Mounts Pressure on Nigeria
Zambia’s senior national football team, Chipolopolo, this afternoon beat the Desert Warriors of Algeria 3-1 to mount pressure on Nigeria, in the race for Group B’s sole ticket to Russia 2018 World Cup. The match was played at Lusaka National Heroes stadium, Zambia. With this result, Zambia has secured 4 points followed by Cameroon with 2 points and Algeria with 1, all from three games. Nigeria leads that group with 9 maximum points also from three games, following yesterday’s 4-0 convincing win over Cameroon and previous victories over Zambia and Algeria, respectively.
As it stands, Nigeria’s lead can be described as catch-able and no longer unassailable, except the country wins at least one more game and draws one. In that case, Zambia would have to drop at least one point in her second leg game against Nigeria. That scenario would mean that Nigeria would need to beat either Cameroon or Algeria in her next games. If that happens, this country would secure at least 13 unassailable points while Zambia’s possible best cannot exceed 11 points. The second leg of qualifying games would begin next Monday, September 4th. Cameroon would host Nigeria at 6.00pm, that day. Except the unexpected happens as it sometimes does in football, Cameroon and Algeria would not qualify for Russia 2018.
It would be recalled that Nigeria qualified for five of the last six FIFA World Cups. The country failed to qualify for 2006 FIFA World Cup hosted by Germany. Nigeria’s first appearance at the World Cup was at USA 94 World Cup, hosted by United States of America. Nigeria dazzled in that maiden appearance but bowed out gallantly in a nail biting manner to Italy during the closing minutes of injury time after leading most of the time, in a second round game of that competition. The county also featured at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Cameroon have appeared seven times in the finals of the FIFA World Cup, the first being in 1982 where they drew all three matches. In Italy ’90, the country made history when Roger Milla featured for them at the age of 42, to become the oldest player ever to appear in a World Cup final. That record has not been broken. Algeria have appeared in the finals of the FIFA World Cup on four occasions, in 1982, 1986, 2010 and 2014.
On the other hand, Zambia has never qualified for the finals of the FIFA World Cup. In April 1993, a Zambian Airforce aircraft which was carrying the team to Senegal for a 1994 World Cup qualification match crashed, killing all passengers, including 18 players and some coaches. The country’s soccer legend, Kalusha Bwalya, was spared that tragic fate, as he did not join his team mates in that ill fated flight.
- Cornelius Ellah