The qualification round for the World Cup was debit on an week without domestic football in the bigger European competitions. Only a few match rounds to go and then we can finally work towards the World Cup, which starts after the ongoing campaign. Just an handful of countries already qualified themselves: Russia (because they are hosts) Brazil, Iran, Japan, Mexico and Belgium. This list is missing an African contender, which could be changed after Tuesday night. I’m talking about the national squad of Nigeria.
The Nigerians are currently topping the table in Group A of the African group stage with nine points after three matches – the perfect score. Followed by Zambia, who’ve obtained just the mere four points. A country which you wouldn’t expect to be runners-up in this ‘group of death’, because the other two teams are Cameroon (2 points) and Algeria (1 point). Both have arguably better players than Zambia, but are looking completely out of the race for a World Cup-ticket.
Triumphing in Yaoundé – where the fixture between Cameroon and Nigeria will take place – isn’t enough for Nigeria to cement their position as group winners. But the Nigerians will go to the WC2018 as the first African side if Zambia doesn’t win against Algeria on Tuesday night. This in combination with a three pointer in Yaoundé.
The probability of Nigeria being a qualified after Tuesday night isn’t a certainty of course, but the Nigerians have such a big difference in points with the rest – qualification is imminent.
Former Nigeria international, Tijani Babangida also had his say about this fixture with an interview with Completesports: “My advice to the Super Eagles is that they should be patient. In the first leg, it was Cameroon in the first 10 minutes of the game, but the Eagles kept calm and warmed themselves into the game. So in Yaoundé, I would want them to sit back and watch what Cameroon have to offer before making their move. No team must be underrated because teams are improving. Who says Zambia cannot go to Algeria and get a win? But my advice to the Eagles is that they must not worry about what the other teams are doing, rather they should focus on their own games”.
I partly agree with Babangida, the Super Eagles should be cautious against Cameroon, but they are currently in a fantastic situation where qualification for the World Cup 2018 seems a matter of time. We will know after Tuesday evening.