The 2018 World qualifiers have gone so smoothly for the Super Eagles of Nigeria that they could secure qualification for Russia without losing a match, and even a game to spare.
Nigeria will face the Chipolopolos of Zambia on Saturday in a crucial game, knowing that a victory will see them qualify for the World Cup, with a draw from the game seeing them leaving things till the last match next month.
Having beaten Zambia in the first game away in Ndola, the Super Eagles would fancy their chances of replicating it on home turf in this return fixture, but they would be wary of the opposition.
Since that 2-1 defeat to Nigeria, the Zambians have become better in the qualifiers, securing a draw against Cameroon in Yaounde and beating Algeria in Algiers, four points on the road.
Although the Super Eagles would bank on the form of their last two games, walloping Cameroon 4-0 at home and a 1-1 draw away in Yaounde, the Zambians would no doubt be looking at video tapes of the match where South Africa beat Nigeria 2-0 in Uyo.
Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr said in a press conference on Thursday that the Zambians will be the most difficult side they have faced in the qualifiers as they have changed a lot from 2016.
“Zambia team from one year ago is not the same today. They changed a lot, they have now very young players who are coming in from under-20 team, won the AFCON and played the quarterfinal in the World Cup. So we know that it’s a different team who we play against now,” Rohr said.
In the last 20 years, Nigeria have played Zambia eight times and have only lost once, winning four of those and drawing three times.
So recent history seems to favour Nigeria, but would the Zambians just turn up just to be beaten, knowing that a win puts them on the threshold of World Cup qualification?
Unlike in the match against Cameroon which Nigeria controlled the outcome, this one against Zambia would no doubt bear a different look.
Players to watch:
- Victor Moses (Nigeria) has arguably been the best player for the Super Eagles, all the runs seem to come from him and he would be very instrumental for them
- Kennedy Mweene (Zambia) a veteran goalkeeper for his country, he would have to be at his very best to stop the attacking onslaught of the Super Eagles
Head to Head clash: 17
- Nigeria won 7
- Zambia won 5
- Drawn games 5
- Gernot Rohr (Nigeria)
- Wedson Nyirenda (Zambia)
Date, Time and Venue of the match :
- October 7, 2017.
- 5:00pm (Nigerian time)
- Godswill Akpabio International stadium, Uyo
- Nigeria 3-1 Zambia