-Russia 2018: Lions Force Eagles to a Draw.
The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon this evening, forced Nigeria’s Super Eagles to a 1-1 draw in a Group B second leg match of the African round of qualifiers for next year’s FIFA World Cup competition scheduled for Russia. The match was played in Yaounde, capital of Cameroon.
Moses Simon scored Nigeria’s only goal in the 30th minute of play after a goalmouth scramble, while Vincent Aboubakar equalised for Cameroon from the penalty spot in the 75th minute, after the center Referee, Bakary Papa Gassama, from Gambia, adjudged Nigeria’s goalkeeper, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, as having fouled a Cameroonian player in Nigeria’s 18 yard box. Nigeria narrowly missed several scoring chances in that match, with Victor Moses’ delicately chipped free kick caressing Cameroon’s goal bar before getting out of play, in one of such chances.
It would be recalled that Nigeria beat Cameroon 4-0 in the first leg game played last Friday in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. With this result, Nigeria’s firm grip on the top spot of Group B remains unshaken with 10 points from 4 games, while Zambia is second with 4 points from 3 games. Cameroon occupies the third spot with 3 points from 4 games, while Algeria is rooted at the bottom with 1 point from 3 games. Algeria would host Zambia tomorrow in a second leg tie. The first leg encounter ended 3-1 in favour of Zambia.
Nigeria’s chance of qualifying for Russia 2018 World Cup is still bright and would be brightened further, if Algeria beats Zambia tomorrow. This would mean that in the unlikely possibility that Zambia wins her next two games, their points haul would not surpass Nigeria’s 10 points. On the other hand, Zambia could still top Group B if they prove bookmakers wrong by winning their next three games, including the last game on Nigeria’s soil. That would mean that Zambia would end up with 13 points. Cameroon is already out of the race to Russia, as the current African Nations Cup champions cannot surpass 9 points, even if they win their next two games against Algeria and Zambia, respectively. Also, Algeria could still catch up with Nigeria’s 10 points if that country wins all her next three games. Group B’s sole ticket to Russia 2018 would be handed to the team with superior goals scored, if more than one team finishes the race with the same number of points. The hypothetical scenarios given here on Zambia and Algeria can only materialize if Nigeria loses her next two games against both countries. However, Nigeria’s unbeaten record in Group B of the qualifiers suggest that this country would not drop all points in either of those matches.
We congratulate the Super Eagles for this unbeaten record and enjoin them to retain it or improve it!
- Cornelius Ellah