Will the Super Eagles Qualify for Russia 2018 World Cup?
Will the Super Eagles top a difficult group consisting of Algeria and Cameroon to qualify for Russia 2018 World Cup?
It’s a difficult question no one can easily answer, especially when your country is grouped with the most inform footballing team in Africa right now, a rejuvenated once upon a time African giant and a recently crowned African Nations cup winner. That’s not to say the Super Eagles are the weakest side in the group (that derogatory tag surely belongs to Zambia) or are not on par with these teams, but the task of romping with top footballing countries across the world in Putin’s backyard in less than two years from now will be a humongous one, starting with the weekend away to Chipolopolo of Zambia.
The new Barcelona of Africa
The Desert Warriors of Algeria, as they are fondly called, are buzzing with a lot of exciting young and talented set of players right now. Riyad Mahrez, who helped Leicester to a first Premier league title ever, winning himself PFA player of the year, is arguably the best African football player right now. Islam Slimani, who joined his country’s teammate, the aforementioned Mahrez, at Leicester this season is one of the best poachers around the continent, scoring goals aplenty for his national side, 23 goals in 44 appearances. Others include midfielder Sofiane Feghouli (Westham), playmaker Yacine Brahimi (Porto), and defender Faouzi Ghoulam (Napoli).
Algeria are a free-scoring team, notching up 18 goals in four competitive matches this year, winning three of those games and drawing just one. This is definitely going to be Nigeria’s biggest and most difficult opponent in this group and I dare say if the Super Eagles want to flap their wings high in the blue sky of Russia, getting four points from the warriors might just be the launchpad.
The Rejuvenated African Lions
Four times Nations cup champions and one of Nigeria’s biggest African rivals, Cameroon have gone from being one of the best in the continent to being a beatable team. They will nonetheless, be a very tricky opposition for the Super Eagles after qualifying for the Nations cup without losing any of the six qualifying games they played. The long lost rivalry between these two sides will definitely be renewed when they square up next year. This will definitely be Nigeria’s second most difficult opponent in this group.
The Perceived Weakest team
Already written off by pundits, Zambia just might cause a few upsets in the so-called group of death, especially against the Super Eagles – a team they’ve never lost to at home – on Sunday. The Zambians have been very poor lately; just like the Eagles, they failed to qualify for the Nations cup holding next year and are far from being the impressive team that successfully won the Nations cup trophy four years ago. They probably will fancy their chances against the Eagles in respect to the other teams in the group.
Will the Super Eagles really Qualify?
Now back to that earlier cryptic question; will the Super Eagle Qualify from this hellish group?
The Super Eagles have their work cut out. They usually find it difficult to beat minnows away from home. And their opponents in this group are far from being minnows, they are former continental champions and are even more favoured to triumph over the Eagles in their own backyard.
Thank heavens we have the likes of Iheanacho and Iwobi, who have played brilliantly for their respective clubs this season, in this current team. They should pose serious threats to any defences they come against in this qualifying series.
So again the question, will the Eagles qualify? That will be partly answered after they play their first game against Zambia on Sunday in Lusaka.