The Super Eagles on Monday ended the Indomitable Lions’ hopes of qualifying for the Russia 2018 World Cup despite being held 1-1 by the Cameroonians in the reverse fixture of their Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying double-header in Yaounde.
With the draw, the Eagles thus amassed four points from the double fixtures having walloped the Cameroonians 4-0 in Uyo on Friday, to extend their lead in Group B to 10 points while Zambia is second with four points. Cameroon is third with three points and Algeria holds the rear with one point.
It was sweet revenge for the Nigerians, who lost the ticket to the 1990 World Cup to the Lions after losing 1-0 in Yaounde in 1989.
A goal from Gent forward, Moses Simon, and a converted penalty from Vincent Aboubakar ensured the two sides shared the points at the StadeOmnisports AhmadouAhidjo.
Eagles coach Gernot Rohr maintained the Uyo starting line-up, with EldersonEchiejile, Shehu Abdullahi, Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong in defence. Wilfred Ndidi and OgenyiOnazi were in defensive midfield while Moses, Mikel and Moses Simon supported Ighalo in the attack. Ifeanyi Ubah’s Ikechukwu Ezenwa remained in goal.
Just as in the reverse fixture, Cameroon was the livelier of both sides during the early minutes of the game but Nigeria grew into the game with Moses and Ighalo proving a handful for the Lions’ defenders.
However, Nigeria went ahead in the 30th minute after the Lions failed to deal with an Ighalo shot. The ball fell to the Gent man, whose effort evaded some trembling Cameroonian legs before hitting the roof of the net.
The Eagles, however, struggled in the second half and in the 73rd minute, Ezenwa clattered into Djoum and Gambian referee Papa Gassama awarded a penalty, which Abubakar converted.
The hosts searched for a winner but the Eagles held on for a draw over their bitter rivals.Nigeria, however, will wait till they play their last two matches in October against Zambia in Uyo and Algeria in Algiers in November to ensure their qualification to Russia.
The Zambians, who defeated Algeria 3-1 on Saturday, will hope to take their chance to close the gap between them and the Eagles when they play Algeria in Algiers today. A win for the Chipolopolo will take them to seven points – three behind Nigeria. (Punchng.com)