It will be a classic David versus Goliath clash when the three-time African champions and six-time World Cup appearance maker lock horns with a team that has never qualified for the AFCON or the Mundial
Nigeria will look to maintain their perfect start to their World Cup qualifying campaign with a convincing victory over the Central African Republic when both sides meet at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos, on Thursday.
The Super Eagles could make it three wins out of three should the Group C leaders make their superiority count against the group’s basement side.
A pair of Kelechi Iheanacho goals helped the three-time Africa Cup of Nations winners defeat Liberia 2-0 on matchday one before they came from behind to soar past Cape Verde 2-1 on matchday two.
Gernot Rohr’s men could take a significant step towards Qatar 2022 with another straightforward win on matchday three.
On the other hand, the Central African Republic are not looking any closer to making a maiden World Cup appearance.
Despite playing their first two games in Douala, the CAR boast a single point after drawing against Cape Verde and losing to Liberia to sit bottom of Group C.
However, an unlikely win in Lagos could lift Les Fauves to second, two points behind their illustrious rivals.
Hungry Eagles set to maintain unbeaten record
A Nigerian defeat at home in a World Cup qualifier is an occurrence so rare it has not been seen since the turn of the millennium.
A record that reads twenty-two wins, three draws, and zero losses in the last 25 matches and 21 years is a true testament of the Super Eagles’ desire and hunger in this competition.
Nigeria have always been one of the giants of African football; still, now is not the best time for any continental minnows to be facing the 2013 Afcon kings.
In Napoli’s Victor Osimhen, Genk’s Paul Onuachu, and Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho, the Super Eagles boast possibly the most fearsome attack on the continent at the moment and one of the most lethal in the team’s history.
Even in the forced absence of midfield strongman Wilfred Ndidi, power dynamo Oghenekaro Etebo, playmaker Alex Iwobi, and rising star Terem Moffi, head coach Gernot Rohr can still count on the refined talents of Premier League-based Frank Onyeka, as well as new invitees, Union Berlin’s Taiwo Awoniyi and Rangers’ Calvin Bassey.
With almost a full house earlier reported in the team camp, all is set for the Eagles to amass nine points out of nine.
CAR, one of Africa’s last remaining minnows
Upsets are common in football, and the Central African Republic would be motivated to shatter the record books, humiliate their opponents away from home, and return to Bangui with all three points.
But Les Fauves are one of the weakest teams in Africa and the world, and they come into this matchup against Nigeria on the back of a horrible run of form and without their best player and captain Geoffrey Kondogbia.
The Wild Beasts have won just once in their last 17 matches in all competitions, suffering heavy defeats to Rwanda, Morocco, Congo DR, and Cote d’Ivoire in the process.
And with head coach Raoul Savoy reportedly leaving out his best player Atletico Madrid’s Kondogbia from the squad set to face Nigeria, it may take a miracle for the CAR to avoid a mauling in Lagos.
This is the first time the men’s national team of the Central African Republic will trade tackles with their Nigerian counterparts.
However, on September 25, 2021, Nigeria’s Falconets thrashed the U-20 girls of the Central African Republic 7-0 in their FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Africa first round, first leg encounter in Douala.
Competition: World Cup Qualification Africa, Game week 3
Venue: Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos
Kickoff Time: 5:00 pm (Nigerian time)
Date: Thursday, October 7, 2021.
Nigeria’s probable lineup (4-4-2): Akpeyi; Aina, Balogun, Troost-Ekong, Collins; Onyeka, Aribo, Kalu, Simon; Iheanacho, Osimhen.
Central African Republic probable lineup (4-2-3-1): Samola; Ngam-Ngam, Ndobe, Guinari, Yangao; Niamathe, Ndokomandji; Urie, Toropite, Damona; M’Vondo
A massive win on Thursday would confirm Nigeria’s superiority over their opponents ahead of the return leg three days later while boosting the team’s chances of finishing top of Group C.
Les Fauves will not just come to Lagos and roll over for the Super Eagles, and the Central Africans are expected to put up a stubborn defensive resistance in the early stages.
But once the first Nigerian goal hit the back of the net, it could open the floodgates.
Nigeria have scored in the first half of each of their last five competitive matches on home soil, and the Beasts may not be strong enough to avoid a similar fate.
The former African champions won HT/FT at home to Liberia last month, and a repeat could be on the cards in the same venue.
Tip 1: Super Eagles goal before halftime
Tip 2: Nigeria win HT/FT