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JUST IN: Super Eagles ends Cape Verde’s 2022 Qatar world cup dreams

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

The Nigerian national football team, Super Eagles, has progressed to the next stage of the 2022 Qatar world cup qualification after playing a 1-1 draw with their Group C opponent, Cape Verge.

Following outcome of the game, the Nigerian team earned a spot in the play-off after topping their group, earning 13 points as against the 11 points recorded by Cape Verde after the qualification stage.

During the game played on Tuesday in Lagos, Osimhen’s opening goal was enough to help the Super Eagles advance in their quest for a place in Qatar as they finished as Group C leaders with 13 points after six games.

Before the match, Nigerian coach, Gernot Rohr, made a single change to the starting XI that faced Liberia on Saturday with Al Shabab striker Odion Ighalo replacing Kelechi Iheanacho.

Nigeria made a promising start to the game and immediately drew first blood through Osimhen’s strike in the first minute and shortly after grabbing the lead, William Troost-Ekong conceded a corner-kick while trying to keep possession and the resulting corner was well converted by Stopira who beat the Watford defender to the ball to score the equaliser in the sixth minute.

Despite conceding a goal, the Super Eagles did not relent in dominating the first 45 minutes as they won more fouls than the Blues, but they lacked the cutting edge to find the back of the net.

Troost-Ekong was found guilty of another defensive error in the 23rd minute when trying to pass to Awaziem in the 23rd minute, but fortunately for the hosts, the Blue Sharks could not make anything out of the situation.

Simon had a knock while trying to cover for the defence but he got back on his feet and continued after receiving brief medical attention.

Nigeria continued piling the pressure and in the 37th minute, they were close to regaining their lead after a fine run from Iwobi but Ighalo failed to hit Collins’ short pass with the required power.

Two minutes later, Aribo had his chance with a well-placed left-footed shot but it was parried away by goalkeeper Vozinha and the resulting corner-kick was nearly converted by Osimhen.

The first half ended with drama after Cape Verde approached referee Mustapha Ghorbal to protest for a free kick but he had brought the game to a stop with their player on the ground.

The second 45 minutes started at a slow pace with both teams struggling to find a shot on target. Cape Verde manager Bubista immediately made double substitutions as Nuno Borges and Willy Semedo came on for Jamiro Monteiro and Jeffry Fortes respectively on the hour-mark.

The changes boosted the Blue Sharks as they gradually found their feet in the game. Eight minutes later, Simon was stretchered off after a collision with a Cape Verde defender and he was replaced by Abdullahi Shehu.

Nigeria’s brightest chance after the restart came in the 71st minute when Osimhen tried to take advantage of a counter-attack but he was beaten to the ball by goalkeeper Vozinha who made a fine clearance.

Ighalo was later replaced by Iheanacho while Brentford midfielder Frank Onyeka was brought in for Joe Aribo in the 78th minute.

It was a nervy finish to the encounter as Cape Verde had back-to-back corner kicks in the final five minutes but failed to beat the Nigeria defence while Osimhen was replaced by Genk’s Paul Onuachu in the 89th minute.

The encounter ended with a standing ovation from fans at the Teslim Balogun Stadium for the Napoli star, in appreciation of his contribution and he was later rewarded as the Man of the Match with a one million naira cheque.

Nigeria will now wait to know their opponents in the play-off stage which will commence after the 2020 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

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