Nigeria’s Super Eagles shook off the disappointment of losing at home to Central African Republic on Thursday in the FIFA 2022 World Cup qualifiers, overturning the last result and getting their pound of flesh when both teams clashed in the return leg on Sunday. Nigeria secured all three points with a 2-0 victory to maintain their top spot in Group C.
Goals from Leon Balogun who scored his first international goal for Nigeria, and Victor Osimhen who was on hand to drill in his shot, ensured the Super Eagles weren’t going to suffer another upset just like they did in Lagos.
Nigeria with the victory, remained on top of their and still the favourites to secure qualification into the direct knockout stage, next year in March for a slot as one the six teams representing Africa in Qatar.
Karl Namnganda’s stoppage time goal in Lagos had stunned the ever demanding Nigerian fans, and while Nigeria struggled to find a shot on target in that match, Central African Republic had three then, and could have won by more than 1-0.
However with the return leg played in Doula, Cameroon because of CAF’s decision banning eight countries who failed a venue inspection test from hosting World Cup qualifiers, Nigeria made the most of playing at a new venue.
Balogun found net in the 29th minute after remaining in CAR’s box from a set piece, latching on to Chidozie Awaziem’s cross from deep to belt the shot into the net. Osimhen doubled Nigeria’s tally just before the break, wasting no time to rifle in a low shot at the stroke of half time to give Nigeria a healthy lead.
The Super Eagles asserted their dominance more in the second half, and could have scored more goals through Osimhen, who blew a couple of chances. Skipper Ahmed Musa (making his official 100th cap) had a chance earlier on after he was played through on goal by Kelechi Iheanacho, but the former opted to square a pass to Osihmen, which could not reach him.
Osimhen had a glaring chance to make it 3-0, when he got past the goalkeeper, only to see his resultant shot cleared off the line by a CAR defender, who saved a clear goal opportunity.
Chidera Ejuke when he came in for Kelechi Iheanacho, lit up the whole stadium with his dazzling runs. The CSKA Moscow forward was enthralling the few minutes he played, leaving opponents in his trails with his take-ons. A ray of exciting runs that troubled the CAR defenders.
Nigeria is now close to securing qualification for the next round, and could go through with a game left to spare, if they win their first match in November, and results go their way in the other group game.