Super Eagles through to WCQ playoffs after Cape Verde draw

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The Super Eagles have made it into the playoffs of the 2022 FIFA World Cup after forcing a 1-1 draw with the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde at the Teslim Balogun Stadium on Tuesday night. Gernot Rohr’s men played a controlled game and got the needed result to finish top of Group C of the African qualifying series for the Mundial.

With barely a minute gone by, Nigeria striker Victor Osimhen put his team in front with a calm finish from the center of the box. Moses Simon played in a cross from the right wing and a Cape Verde defender erroneously nodded it into Osimhen’s path, the Napoli hitman made no mistake from close range, beating the goalkeeper with a cool finish into the bottom corner.

However, the Eagles’ lead did not last for long as Ianique Tavares tucked in an equalizer in the sixth minute after defender William Troost-Ekong failed to track the run of the left-back.

The Eagles almost gave a counter-response not long after as Simon’s cross from a corner-kick found Balogun, but the center-back could not guide his header towards goal.

On 27 minutes, Odion Ighalo missed a good chance to put Nigeria ahead. Jamilu Collins found the Al Shabab striker unmarked in the box with a ground cross, but the number 8 fluffed his strike and allowed Cape Verde recover and clear the ball.

Aribo forced the goalkeeper to a great save on the half-hour mark. Ighalo set-up the midfielder with a short pass in the box and the Rangers man tried to bend one in first time, but Josimar Dias was up to the task.

Another chance fell to Ighalo in the 33rd minute as his strike partner Osimhen found him with an inch-perfect cross from the right. The 32-year-old just couldn’t get his header on target.

Aribo tested the Cape Verde goalkeeper again, with a header this time, in the 40th minute. Dias palmed away for a corner kick.

The Cape Verdeans came into the second period with a better resolve, giving the Eagles a run for their money. Rohr’s men did well to hold on for a stalemate, repelling several waves of the Blue Sharks’ attack.

At the end, the Eagles were the jubilating side as a draw was enough for them to finish top of the group with 13 points, earning themselves a place in the third round of the World Cup qualifying series.

They will play a two-legged tie against one of the leaders from the other groups in the second round, with winner assured of a World Cup ticket. The Eagles will know their opponents for the playoffs after the draw for the round which will be held next month.

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