Nigeria’s Super Eagles qualified for the last round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, securing a vital point at home in Lagos after drawing 1-1 against Cape Verde to finish top of Group C with 13 points.

Victor Osimhen had opened the scores for Nigeria, calmly finding the net as early as the first minute, but Cape Verde equalized not long after in the 6th minute hoping to replicate last month’s shocker by Central African Republic.

With a place up for grabs in the last round, Nigeria knew a point would have been enough to qualify to book their spot in the direct playoff, while Cape Verde need an outright to usurp the Super Eagles.

Coach Gernot Rohr made just one change to the starting 11 that defeated Liberia 2-0 in Tangier, bringing in Odion Ighalo to partner Victor Osimhen in attack while sticking to his favoured 3-5-2 formation.

Although Nigeria was fairly comfortable in the game, and rarely troubled by the visitors, there was a little bit of trepidation knowing that the longer the game wore on, Cape Verde could pull an upset. Cape Verde sensed it, and made five changes in two slots trying to have a go at Nigeria

Bar the moment Maduka Okoye rushed out of his line to quickly pick the ball, and Wilfred Ndidi blocking Willie Semedo’s shot, Nigeria was hardly unruffled securing the vital point to go into the last qualifying phase in March.

Now, Nigeria will first prosecute the African Cup of Nations in January, but they will really need to add more fluid and creative in attack if they are to be competitive starting in Cameroon, then the direct World Cup playoffs.

For now, they have gotten to the crucial stage and have given themselves a chance of qualifying for Qatar, but the road from here is not going to be easy.

Athletics coverage was a discovery, having to move away from regularly writing about Football. Although it was initially daunting, but now being an authority in it makes the past effort worthwhile. From travelling on the same international flight with Nigerian athletes, to knowing you could easily interview: World Record holder Tobi Amusan, then Ese Brume, I have cut my teeth in this beat earning the trust of Athletics sources. Formerly the Content Manager-Sports at Ringier media Nigeria, Chris is a Senior Sports writer, Photographer & Community manager at Making of Champions.


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