2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier: Nigeria draw 1-1 with Cape Verde in Lagos, qualify for Africa playoffs

[By VICTOR NZE]

Nigeria’s Super Eagles contained the rampaging Blue Sharks of Cape Verde in the closing minutes of the tension-soaked encounter at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos to secure a hard-fought 1-1 draw in the last Group C Match Day 6 fixture of the 2022 FIFA World Cup African qualifiers.

Super Eagles

Needing only a draw to qualify for the playoffs, which is also the Third Round of the qualifiers, the Super Eagles got the opener within one minute of the encounter through striker Victor Osimhen who connected with a Moses Simon cross in less than 30 seconds of the match.

However, Cape Verde equalized five minutes later through defender Stopira, on the six-minute mark. The scores stayed that way till the 90 minutes with four minutes of added time.

With this result, Nigeria topped Group C with 13 points with Cape Verde finishing second with 11 points.

Nigeria now joins 9 other African countries to advance into the playoffs slated for March, next year.

The result also means that Cape Verde remain unbeaten away from home in the qualifiers and have finished  with 11 points from their five group games so far.

This is also s Victor Osimhen solo strike in the first minute is now his fourth in this World Cup qualifying campaign, more than any scored by another player in the team.

It was also a return to international duties for striker Odion Ighalo, who voluntarily retired two years ago from the national team.

For German coach, Gernot Rohr, he also oversaw his 54th match in charge of the Super Eagles, surpassing the record which he shares with former Nigeria coach, now late Shaibu Amodu.

Apart from the September meeting in Mindelo, Nigeria and Cape Verde have played each other only once before during in a friendly in January 2013 which failed to produce goals.

As at the close of Match Day 6, in other groups, Monday, six countries, including; Ghana, Senegal, Morocco, Egypt, Mali and DR Congo had topped their various groups to qualify for the playoffs.

If the Super Eagles had beaten Central African Republic (CAR), last month in Lagos, Tuesday’s match would have been a mere formality.

FIFA is introducing a playoff system in the Africa qualifiers for the first time, as previous editions have seen the winners of the each of the five groups in the qualification series emerge with the tickets to the football tournament.

However, this edition will see 10 group winners enter into a playoff system with two teams paired to play on a home and away fixture with the eventual five winners picking a ticket each to the World Cup. Africa maintains its five slots to the World Cup.

The playoffs have been fixed for March, next year, but the fixtures are yet to be determined by FIFA.

The Super Eagles are aiming for their sixth World Cup appearance, having qualified for all but one of the tournaments since their debut in 1994 in the United States.

In Europe, five other countries have also emerged with tickets to the football tournament in Qatar next year, while others will have to go through a playoffs system to decide the final number of representatives from the continent. They include: Germany, Denmark, Brazil, France and Belgium.

These countries join the host Qatar as confirmed for the tournament.

The FIFA 2022 World Cup qualifiers began in June 2019 and are expected to finish in June 2022. The event holds in Qatar holds between November and December, 20222.

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