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Monday, January 3, 2022

Super Eagles begin 2022 World Cup qualifiers with 25th home win

The Super Eagles of Nigeria have begun the 2022 World Cup qualifiers with a 2-0 victory over the Lone Star of Liberia.

The victory also earned Nigeria her third victory in qualification campaigns over Liberia.

Kelechi Iheanacho who emerged man of the match scored both goals in the 22nd and 44th minute of the encounter at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere.

Iheanacho scored his first competitive goals in four years as his tally for the senior national side increased to 12 goals in 34 appearances.

Immediately after the restart, Iheanacho had the chance to grab his hat-trick but his header was wide of the target.

Nigeria continued their dominance and just before the hour-mark they had another chance to extend their lead after a fine series of movements from Ndidi in the penalty area but the final pass could not be converted by Iwobi.

Victor Osimhen kept pushing for his goal and he nearly found the net with his header off Moses Simon’s corner-kick but it was parried to safety by goalkeeper Williams.

The Napoli talisman ended the encounter without scoring as he was replaced by Paul Onuachu and Bordeaux winger Samuel Kalu replaced Simon in the 78th minute.

A few minutes later, Nigeria made another double substitution as captain Ahmed Musa and Abdullahi Shehu came on for Iheanacho and Iwobi, respectively.

Aribo was replaced on the stroke on full-time by Watford’s Oghenekaro Etebo.

With this victory, the Super Eagles are unbeaten in their last 25 home games in World Cup qualifying matches while dimming the hopes of the Lone Star to qualify for the global football showpiece for the first time in their history.

Of all these outings, the three-time African kings won 21 fixtures, while there ended with a draw.

The Super Eagles have their sights set on the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde who they hope to pick off when they clash on Tuesday, September 7th, but will be without star performers, Iheanacho and Iwobi and six other United Kingdom-based players due to the country’s COVID regulations on red-list countries.

Though the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick revealed in an interview with CNN  that the football body has applied to the English FA for special consideration, similar to the one extended to European countries after the 2020 European Championships, as things stand, UK-based players are almost certain to miss the Cape Verde fixture.

In the recognition of their individual performances, Iheanacho was voted as the Man of the Match while Iwobi claimed another one million naira as the Most Valuable Player.

The victory powered Nigeria to the top of the Group C table with three points after their rivals Cape Verde and the Central African Republic played out a 1-1 draw on Wednesday.

Next up for the three-time African champions is a trip to Vape Verde for their second group match on September 7 while Liberia battle Central African Republic on Monday.

I'm an avid and seasoned sports/ multimedia journalist. I have a biased love for Real Madrid and passionate advocate for the overall growth of the Nigeria Sports Project. I can be reached on 09077894123 or/and '[email protected]'

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