Three-time African champions, Super Eagles will on Tuesday battle Sharks of Cape Verde in the ultimate game of Group C of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying African series at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos.
Victory or draw against the Sharks will send 12-pointer Eagles into the knockout round, with the visitors, who are on 10, needing to win to make progress at Nigeria’s expense.
Captain Ahmed Musa has assured Nigerians that the Super Eagles are matured, professional and ambitious enough to deal with any pressure as they seek to qualify for the World Cup.
“There will always be all kinds of pressure when you are out there on the football field, as a professional sportsman or woman. You just must have strong fibre to cope with the pressure from everywhere, focus on getting the result and get the job done.
“Pressure is never an excuse not to put out your best; sometimes, it helps you to get beyond your level best,” Musa told thenff.com.
At a pre-match press conference earlier in the day, Nigeria’s record international caps’ holder also said the big motivation to go all out in Tuesday’s encounter is that a number of players in the squad are yet to feature at the FIFA World Cup finals.
“The FIFA World Cup is the biggest stage for every professional football player. They all want to be there; you don’t need any more motivation than that. We said after the match with Liberia in Tangier on Saturday that we will not be going for a draw against Cape Verde. Nothing has changed.”
Nigeria has participated in all FIFA World Cup final tournaments since its debut in 1994 in the United States of America, bar the 2006 finals in Germany that she missed narrowly after FIFA opted to use the head-to-head rule in the qualifying campaign, which favoured Angola.
Already, in-form Senegal as well as Egypt, Mali, Morocco and Democratic Republic of Congo have sailed into that final round, with African champions Algeria expected to have no trouble doing the same.
One of Ghana’s Black Stars and South Africa’s Bafana Bafana was set to emerge on Sunday night after their group’s final fixture in Cape Coast, with the home team needing a win and the visitors only in need of a draw.
Three other matches will produce the remaining two qualifiers. Five –time African champions Cameroon are at home to Cote d’Ivoire’s Elephants in Yaounde on Tuesday. The Lions, on 12 points, need a win while 13-pointer Elephants require only a draw.
Tunisia hosts Zambia also on Tuesday, and would scale through with a draw as long as Equatorial Guinea, who shocked the Carthage Eagles on Saturday, do not pick all the points in Nouakchott against Mauritania.
The Eagles and the Guineans are both on 10 points. Zambia, who victimized Mauritania 4-0 on Saturday to go to seven points, are also still in with a chance, if they win well in Tunisia and Equatorial Guinea drop all points in Nouakchott.
The final round of the African qualifying series will hold in March 2022