Posted by News Express | 10 October 2021 | 376 times
• Another tepid play may ruin Ahmed Musa’s 100th cap, spells doom for Nigeria
As Super Eagles file out against the Wild Beasts of Central African Republic (CAR) in Douala, Cameroon this afternoon, nothing short of an outright victory will return Nigeria’s hope of qualifying for the knockout phase of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on course.
After the CAR inflicted an embarrassing first home defeat in 40 years in a World Cup qualifying match on Nigeria last Thursday and narrowed Eagles lead to just two points at the top of Group C, both today’s hosts and Cape Verde have the chance of upstaging the three-time African champions to drop to number three on the log.
With Cape Verde’s Blue Sharks winning 2-1 away against Liberia in Monrovia on Match-day 3, they are primed to consolidate as they host the Lone Star in Mindelo today and climb to seven points. CAR can also match the Blue Sharks if they repeat their famous win against Nigeria in this afternoon’s crucial clash at the Stade Japoma de Douala beginning at 2pm (same time as Nigeria).
However, Eagles gaffer, Gernot Rohr, who escaped the wrath of Lagos fans at the Teslim Balogun Stadium on Thursday knows another tepid performance from his wards may spell doom for the rest of his two-year deal with Nigeria.
Already, camp sources hinted THISDAY last night from Douala that Rohr is likely to ring changes in some of the departments where Eagles lacked quality in the last encounter on Thursday.
From the rear, Sparta Rotterdam’s Maduka Okoye has been tipped to reclaim the No 1 shirt from Francis Uzoho who was between the sticks in the first leg.
“The team will not change so much, except with bringing in two or three fresh players (from the first game Thursday),” Rohr disclosed after the Eagles trained in Douala, Cameroon, for the first time yesterday.
“We have the opportunity to win to make up for not doing so three days ago.
“We’re very confident Sunday will be a good day,” observed the Franco-German coach.
The coach said Okoye was dropped for the first game after he missed his flight from Europe to join the rest of the squad in Lagos.
Malmo star Innocent Bonke could well be another player to start, possibly for Brentford ace Frank Onyeka, who Rohr said still has a lot to learn to settle into his team.
Union Berlin striker, Taiwo Awoniyi, could also get his first start after he came in for injured Kelechi Iheanacho Thursday for his Super Eagles debut.
Iheanacho has remained an injury doubt for the return tie.
Skipper Ahmed Musa, who is looking forward to earning his milestone 100th cap for Nigeria at senior level, is however more concerned with the Super Eagles taking all three points in the Day 4 encounter.
“I’m happy that I am about to win my 100th cap, which definitely is a thing of joy and pride for any football player at international level. However, I am more concerned about the three points. The three points here have become much more precious due to what happened in the first leg which we lost. The individual honour is welcome but I am more concerned about collective glory and our country’s pride.”
Karl Namnganda scored a stoppage-time goal off a defensive slip between Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong to hand the three points to the Wild Beasts when both teams clashed at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos on Thursday.
Nigeria remain top of the Group C of the qualifying campaign at the halfway mark with six points, two more than Cape Verde and Central African Republic, with three-pointer Liberia bottom of the table.
Rwandan official Louis Hakizimana has been appointed by the Confederation of African Football as referee for Sunday’s match in Douala.
Hakizimana will be assisted by compatriots Ambroise Hakizimana (assistant referee 1), Dieudonne Mutuyimana (assistant referee 2) and Jean Claude Ishimwe (fourth official).
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