Editor's note: There was no argument that when the draws for the 2018 World Cup Qualifier were made and Nigeria found herself in Group B which had African Cup of Nations Champion Cameroon, Africa’s Leading Team Algeria, Super Eagles of Nigeria 2013 Nations Cup Champion & Chipolopolo of Zambia 2012 Champion most Nigerians again had no choice than to save money to buy calculators because we are used to doing it the hard way.
As fate would have it Nigeria are topping their group and are on the brink of qualifying for Russia 2018 without any calculator just as the Late Stephen Okechukwu Keshi did in 2013 when Nigeria booked Brazil 2014 World Cup ticket without relying on permutations.
And as things stand the Super Eagles of Nigeria have 10 points while their closest rival Zambia are close on seven points with the Gernot Rohr team holding the aces, and advantage of playing at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo.
It is also record that the venue has proved to be a favorable ground for Rohr except for the 2019 Nations Cup Qualifier blip against the Bafana Bafana of South-Africa.
Though Nigeria have a better head-to-head record in seventeen games played against the Senior National team of Zambia with seven victories, five loses, and an equal amount of draws. Let us also not forget that they are playing at home and the twelfth man backing them is a huge advantage for the Super Eagles to qualify for their sixth World Cup but it would be foolhardy to discredit the Copper Bullets who claimed back to back victories over a star-studded Algerian team.
The duel tomorrow in Uyo is what I believe Coach Gernot Rohr will tell his charges, “See Russia and Die”, although I hope it does not backfire because Coach of Arsenal Arsene Wenger, back in 2006 also told his team in the Uefa Champions League Final against Barcelona to “See Paris and Die” the aftermath was an unsavory memory for all Arsenal Fans.
In addition let us not throw caution to the wind because Zambia would not come easy going by the statistics which shows that the Wedson Nyirenda led side are yet to lose a match away from home and it counts for something.
Much as I know the Super Eagles need a win, a draw would not be the end of the world because drawing an example from Samson Siasia’s debacle when his team chased a win against Guinea in 2011 in a Nations Cup qualifier, instead of settling for a draw and we all know how that ended.
Thankfully Antonio Conte gave Victor Moses a deserved rest in their 1-0 loss to Manchester City at Stamford Bridge last Saturday which worked in favor of Rohr and the Super Eagles squad.
Finally, Rohr, if the strategy to get maximum points against Zambia does not pan out as envisaged and the goals do not materialize, please settle for the one point but something tells me Super Eagles are fired up and are aware that Nigerians are still battling with recession and cannot afford calculators.
In view of this Nigeria should join the likes of Brazil, Russia (Host), Belgium, Germany, England, Japan, Iran, Mexico, Saudi Arabia & South Korea who have booked their flight to next year’s World Cup.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of NAIJ.com.
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