WCQ playoffs: The best and worst case scenarios for the Super Eagle

Nigeria’s Super Eagles are just two games from qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after playing out a 1-1 draw against Cape Verde at the Teslim Balogun Stadium on Tuesday evening.

The three-time African champions needed just a point against the Blue Sharks to finish top of their group and qualify for the playoffs in the CAF 2022 World Cup Qualifiers.

And they did just that, playing a 1-1 draw against the Blue Sharks, who finished second. Victor Osimhen put Nigeria ahead in the first minute, but Stopira headed in the equaliser to ensure a share of the spoils.

The result confirmed Nigeria’s place in the playoffs, where they will face one of the other nine group winners to determine’s Africa’s five representatives in Qatar.

And ahead of the draws, Soccernet takes a look at the best and worst scenarios for Nigeria.

But before we take a look at potential opponents, it is important to note that the playoff is a two-legged knockout tie, which means the stakes are high.

Also, the teams are seeded according to the FIFA rankings. The top five ranked nations will have the advantage of playing the first leg away from home.

The top five ranked teams:  Senegal, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Nigeria. 

The Bottom five: Egypt, Cameroon, Mali, Ghana, DR Congo 

Best case scenario for the Super Eagles. 

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The truth is all the five unseeded teams are dangerous opponents for the three-time African champions.

Of all the teams that made the playoffs, only DR Congo are not ranked in the top ten. And that is why a draw against Diables Rouges is the best case scenario for Gernot Rohr’s men.

Another opponent that the Super Eagles will relish facing is old rivals Ghana. It will be a battle between two West African giants.

Ghana are not the force they used to be and only managed to qualify for the playoffs on the final day, courtesy of a controversial 1-0 win over South Africa.

Although the favourites tag goes out of the window when two rivals collide, Nigeria will feel confident in their chances if they get to draw Ghana.

Worst case scenario

There’s only one team the Super Eagles will want to avoid among the unseeded teams, and that is Egypt. The Pharaos have arguably the best player in the world right now in Mohamed Salah.

But aside from Salah, north African oppositions have always been tricky opponents for the three-time African champions.

Not only that, the Egyptians have won the last two competitive matches between the two sides, with the most recent defeat coming in 2016, which saw Egypt deny Nigeria a place in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.

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The Super Eagles will also hope to avoid old nemesis Cameroon. The Indomitable Lions have caused Nigerians many heartbreaks in the past, and Nigeria will want to avoid a repeat.

On paper, the Super Eagles will fancy their chances against Cameroon, but given the history between both teams, they will hope to avoid the five-time African champions.

A potential clash with the Eagles of Mali could be exciting but tricky due to the talented group of players in the Mali squad.

Nonetheless, the Super Eagles know they are in for two difficult games irrespective of the team they draw.

When is the draw? 

The date for the draw is December 18, 2021, with the two matches taking place in March 2022.