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Narrow escape for Super Eagles, pick play-off ticket

By Samuel Ifetoye
17 November 2021   |   4:12 am
It was a narrow escape for the Super Eagles, yesterday, in Lagos, as they played a 1-1 draw against the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde to qualify for the Qatar 2022 World Cup play-off.

Victor Osimhen scored for the Super Eagles in their 1-1 draw against the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde in Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifier at Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos….yesterday. PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI

• Draw 1-1 with Cape Verde’s Sharks in Lagos
It was a narrow escape for the Super Eagles, yesterday, in Lagos, as they played a 1-1 draw against the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde to qualify for the Qatar 2022 World Cup play-off.

The draw guaranteed a top table finish for the Super Eagles with 13 points, while Cape Verde were second with 11 points. The Super Eagles made the perfect start as Napoli striker, Victor Osimhen, controlled a cross from Moses Simon, and slotted home in the opening minute.

The goal sent the few Nigerian fans inside the Teslim Balogun Stadium, and those watching at home into jubilation. The Blue Sharks replied in the fifth minute through a defender, after the Eagles’ defence failed to deal with the cross from a corner kick.

Osimhen, who won the hearts of the spectators, did all he could to double the score, but found the defence of the Blue Sharks impenetrable.

Returnee Odion Ighalo, who many wondered why Coach Gernot Rohr invited him for the encounter, was a shadow of himself, as he put every foot wrong.

Misses in the 26th and 32 minutes all clearly showed that the decision to bring back Ighalo, who topped the goals chat at Egypt 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, was a mistake.

At the beginning of the second half, when fans felt Ighalo should have been replaced, Rohr looked the other way. The former Man United striker continued his role as a passenger till the 77th minutes, when he was removed for Kelechi Iheanacho.

Even while the Cape Verde coach made several substitutions, Coach Rohr, in his usual character, made late substitutions; waiting until Moses Simon sustained an injury before defender Shehu Abdullahi replaced him.

What could have been a tragic end to the Super Eagles’ qualification was prevented in the dying minute of the match, when the Blue Sharks almost pulled off an upset. Defender, Chidozie Awaziem, came to the rescue by making a crucial late block for the Gernot Rohr-led Eagles.

In the other match in Group C, Liberia beat Central African Republic 3-1. Elsewhere, Continental champions, Algeria were pushed all the way by Burkina Faso, who needed victory in Blida to keep their hopes of a first-ever World Cup appearance alive. Algeria twice led against Burkina Faso, but drew 2-2 to scale into the play-off stage.

Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Mali, Morocco and Senegal had already reached the play-offs, which will take place in March 2022, to decide the continent’s five representatives in Qatar.

The Super Eagles, yesterday, joined other teams that proceeded to the last round of qualifying for the Qatar 2022 World Cup. The Nigerians played 1-1 with Cape Verde’s Blue Sharks to top Group C in Match Day six played at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere, Lagos.