Nigeria has second best record in World Cup qualifiers
After ending their last qualifying match against Algeria 1-1, Nigeria have now logged one of the best records in the qualifying race to the World Cup.
The Super Eagles unbeaten run in World Cup qualifying has extended to 37 matches. They suffered their last defeat in World Cup qualifying on 20 June 2004.
The Super Eagles record is the second-best streak in World Cup preliminaries history, behind Spain (63, still active) and tied with Germany (who had 36 from 1934 to 1985).
In the last qualifier against Algeria in Constantine, Nigeria opened the scoring through John Ogu, who curled in a superb shot from over 20 yards out into the top corner.
Algeria had plenty of goalscoring chances in the match, but they had to settle for a last-minute equaliser from the penalty spot scored by captain Yacine Brahimi.
Nigeria, who had already secured qualification last month and had nothing other than pride at stake, were without the injured Victor Moses and Mikel Obi on the bench.
But they used the outing to give other players an opportunity to stake their claim for a place at the finals in Russia.
Obi’s midfield replacement, John Ogu, who plays in Israel, hammered home a left footed strike in the 63rd minute, taking advantage of a poor defensive clearance, to give Nigeria the lead after 63 minutes.
Brahimi might have been sent off ten minutes earlier after appearing to head butt an opponent, but was only booked by Gabonese referee Eric Otogo.
The home side missed two clear chances in the second half through Islam Slimani and Aissa Mandi right in front of goal, after slips by Nigeria’s goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa.
Slimani also had a chance just 23 seconds into the match as he powered through the visiting defence in an effort to get his head onto a cross from Riyad Mahrez.
But his effort went wide.
Carl Medjani blasted a long range effort wide of the target after 12 minutes as Algeria looked for a win in their first match under new coach Rabah Madjer.
The former Algeria forward was back for a third spell in charge.
Striker Tony Nwakaeme, on his Nigeria debut, shot on the turn just before half-time as the Algerian defence failed to clear in their own penalty area.
He forced a sharp save out of goalkeeper Fawzi Chaouchi.
Other than the scoreline, the match was a remarkable one as five Leicester City players featured in the game in the city of Constantine.
Mahrez and Slimani for the hosts and Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi both started for Nigeria, with Ahmed Musa coming on as a substitute.
*The group’s final match comes up on Saturday, with Zambia hosting Cameroon