Sunday, November 14, 2021 1:10 am
By Victor Okoye
The Super Eagles on Saturday defeated the Lone Star of Liberia 2-0 at the Grand Stade de Tangier, Morocco, in a FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying Matchday five Group C encounter.
Two strikes from the penalty spot earned Nigeria all three points against Liberia to set up a tantalizing FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying Group C finale at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos, on Tuesday.
Victor Osimhen took his tally in the qualifying series to three goals when he slammed home from six yards in the 14th minute, after Kelechi Iheanacho, his striking partner was scythed in the box as he proceeded to beat goalkeeper Wynney de Souza from a long pass.
Both teams spent much of the time sizing each other up, with the Super Eagles failing to seize on the momentum offered by the first goal to dominate and out-muzzle the ‘hosts’ in an empty arena.
The Lone Star showed some sparkle and got behind the Eagles rear guard on two occasions only to be denied by an alert Maduka Okoye.
Workhorse Moses Simon toiled the length of the field to keep the right side of the Super Eagles going.
In the 28th minute, the Super Eagles thought they had scored a second when defender Jamilu Collins striking the ball past de Souza, only to be ruled off-side by Tunisian referee Youssef Essrayri.
Osimhen, energetic and vibrant, should have made it two for Nigeria minutes later, but shot into the sky with only de Souza to beat.
In the second half, both teams had chances to score but it was Nigeria that added to their tally in added time, when Osimhen got behind de Souza following a through pass by Iheanacho, only to be upended by Souza.
It offered captain Ahmed Musa, an opportunity to score on a day he became Nigeria’s senior caps’ record holder by playing his 102nd game.
Meanwhile, in a simultaneous group encounter on the Island of Mindelo, Cape Verde’s Blue Sharks came back from a goal down at half time to overcome the Wild Beasts of Central African Republic 2-1.
The result saw the Eagles maintain their two-point cushion at the top of the pool and need only a draw on home soil, on Tuesday, to reach the potentially explosive final round scheduled for March 2022.
The results in Tangier and Mindelo also meant Liberia and Central African Republic, who play in Tangier on Tuesday, are out of the running and all eyes will be on the game in Lagos to produce the group winner.
Nigeria are currently on 12 points, while second placed Cape Verde are on 10. (