Nigeria Completes World Cup Qualifiers without Defeat

-Nigeria Completes World Cup Qualifying Series without Defeat-
Nigeria’s Super Eagles have completed the 2018 World Cup qualifying series without defeat, following a 1-1 draw secured against Algeria in a Group B match played in Constantine, Algeria, last night.

Accordingly, the Super Eagles posted these words of appreciation in their Twitter handle (@NGSuperEagles): “We have ended our 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign unbeaten. Thanks for all your support. We specially appreciate @thenff for ensuring that we traveled to all our away games in comfort, on chartered flights & with excellent logistics.”

John Ogu scored Nigeria’s goal with a left footed shot from outside the box to the top left corner of Algeria’s net, in the 62nd minute of play. A foul conceded in the penalty box by Shehu Abdullahi in the 86th minute, gave Algeria an opportunity to cancel that lead as Yacine Brahimi converted the penalty with a right footed shot to the center of goal. Ikechukwu Ezenwa was in goal for Nigeria.

Nigeria had already qualified for next year’s World Cup before that match. That draw has fetched Nigeria 14 points in Group B of the qualifiers. The Super Eagles scored in every game of the qualifiers, notching 12 goals and conceding 4 in that process. Unlike the usual scenario where permutations reigned during qualifying matches involving the Super Eagles, last night’s game did not generate permutations and anxiety among the team’s fans because its outcome was inconsequential to Nigeria’s appearance at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi were in the starting line-up last night, after starting from the bench in the last qualifying match against Zambia. Ahmed Musa replaced Iwobi in the 81st minute of play, last night.

Anthony Nwaekeme, a forwarder, got his first ever cap for Nigeria in that match. He plays for Hapoel Be’er in Isreal’s Premier league. Nwakaeme was replaced by Henry Onyekuru in the 71st minute of play.

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Nigeria dominated possession in last night’s match but failed to hold on to her lead, just like what happened in Cameroon when the Super Eagles conceded a late penalty against the Indomitable Lions. This trend should give Coach Gernot Rohr reasons for concern about Nigeria’s defenders.

It would be recalled that on match day 2 of the qualifiers, Nigeria beat Algeria 3-1 in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. Victor Moses scored twice (25th, 91st minute) while Mikel Obi scored in the 42nd minute. Algeria’s goal was scored by Tottenham Hotspur’s midfielder, Nabil Bentaleb (67th minute).

Nigeria’s unbeaten run in the qualifiers could secure the country an easy group at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. The draw for the final stage of the World Cup will take place on December 1, 2017, in Moscow. 32 countries will participate in that competition.

  • Cornelius Ellah

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