WCQ: Nigeria Maintain Top Spot in Group C, Defeat Cape Verde 2-1
Nigeria maintained their lead atop Group C of the 2022 FIFA World Cup African qualifiers following a 2-1 win against Cape Verde on Tuesday, September 7, at the Estádio Municipal Adérito Sena in Cape Verde.
The Super Eagles came from behind after the Blue Sharks broke the deadlock in the 20th minute, courtesy of Dylan Tavares’ brilliant left-footed strike from inside the penalty area to beat goalkeeper Maduka Okoye at his near post.
Nigeria later got things back on level terms after Napoli’s striker Victor Osimhen capitalized on a terrible mistake by Cape Verde’s defense with a quarter of an hour left to end the first half.
Midway through the second half, the Super Eagles became more eager to collect all three points as they kept pushing for the second goal, but goalkeeper Vozinha was on the alert and kept denying the visitors.
Nigeria was finally gifted a goal when midfielder Santos Rocha tried to pass the ball back to Vozinha, who was off his goal-line, leading to the ball easily sailing into an empty net to give Nigeria a 2-1 league with just 14 minutes left to play.
Cape Verde eventually had a chance to grab a late equalizer in stoppage time, but Willis Furtado’s free header went straight into keeper Maduka Okoye’s hands, ending the match 2-1 in Nigeria’s favor.
The Super Eagles were without several key players who were absent due to As Cape Verde being on the British government's travel red list.
Watford’s Troost-Ekong, Leicester City duo Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi joined Everton's Alex Iwobi, Watford's Oghenekaro Etebo and Rangers duo Leon Balogun and Joe Aribo are the players that were absent from the squad.
According to the British government’s health restrictions, anyone returning from the country to the UK has to be quarantined in a hotel for ten days, a situation that may cause players to miss matches for their clubs.
Up next for Nigeria is a home game against the Central African Republic on October 9, while Cape Verde will travel away to Liberia and later host the Lone Star in back-to-back clashes.
Liberia remains second in the group with three points and will be looking to collect additional points when they face Cape Verde next month.