5 September 2017

Nigeria: Analysis - Russia 2018: the Wind Still Behind Super Eagles

Photo: Premium Times
Super Eagles.

As of this moment, Cameroon has crashed out of the qualification, having garnered only three points from four matches.

Even if they win their two remaining games, they would only get nine points which is less than the 10 points already bagged by group leader, Nigeria.

On Tuesday (tomorrow), bottom-placed Algeria with one point will attempt to jump back to reckoning as they host second-placed Zambia who have four points. If Algeria wins, they would thus have four points like their visitors.

That would mean theoretically that Algeria and Zambia stand a chance to even up with Nigeria at 10 points, if the two countries win their two outstanding games. But can they? The uphill task is that both teams would have to beat Nigeria. In the case of Zambia, they would have to do so in Nigeria on October 7, after Nigeria had defeated them in their home in the first game.

It would also require them (Algeria and Zambia) to beat Cameroon: in Yaoundé for Algeria and in Lusaka for Zambia. Given their current superlative form, the thought of Nigeria losing their last two games is so far-fetched though, but theoretically and mathematically a possibility.

What if Zambia pulls an offset against Algeria on Tuesday? That would make the permutation even more interesting as it would effectively send Algeria out of the road to Russia. But it would shoot Zambia up the reckoning in a Cinderella manner with seven points. It would make their October 7 date in Nigeria a final game of some sort as they would then be pushing to win and level up with Nigeria at 10 points.

In the unlikely possibility of such two straight away wins by Zambia against Algeria and Nigeria (clearly an upset of humongous proportion), it would then push the final decision as to who goes to Russia from the group to the final group matches on November 6 with Zambia hosting Cameroon and Nigeria away to Algeria.

But what if Tuesday game ends in a draw?

Zambia would then have five points and theoretically still capable of picking full points from their last two games and ending with 11 points but Algeria would then kiss their World Cup dream goodbye. But then, anything less than a win against Nigeria in October would end the dream of Zambia.

That would not be the first time Nigeria would turn the Zambian dream to a nightmare. Recall 1994 African Cup of Nations in Tunisia where Zambia was on a run to win the trophy in grand style and in display of sheer will power after the disaster of losing 80 percent of its national team in a plane crash months earlier.

While the world looked forward to a crowning of that dream, it was Nigeria's Super Eagles who smashed it with a 2-1 win in that memorable final. It seems therefore that the Zambian dream may suffer again in the hands of Nigeria.

Everything said, it seems the Super Eagles is on an unassailable flight to Russia and no firepower from the Chipolopolo can stop it.

Team MP W D L F A D P

Nigeria 4 3 1 0 10 3 +7 10

Zambia 3 1 1 1 5 4 +1 4

Cameroon 4 0 3 1 3 7 -4 3

Algeria 3 0 1 2 3 7 -4 1

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