NIGERIA has been drawn into a relatively easy group for the second round of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers have been grouped together with Cape Verde, Central African Republic and Liberia of which only the top team will qualify for the next round.
Yesterday, a colourful ceremony inside The Nile Ritz-Carlton in Cairo, the Egyptian capital, the Confederation of African Football (Caf) held its draws, which ended up pitching Nigeria in Group C. At the event, the 40 teams remaining in the race on were drawn into 10 groups of four teams each, that will produce winners, who will then face each other in a final round knock-out series.
Nigeria’s first game, coming up in October this year, will be against the Lone Star of Liberia, who reached this stage after beating neighbours Sierra Leone in the first round. Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) general secretary Dr Mohammed Sanusi, who was present in Cairo said he is optimistic that Nigeria will top the group.
Dr Sanusi said: “I have always been saying that football is 11 versus 11. There is no team we can underrate and football is now scientific in nature, so if we underrate anyone, we will be in for a shocker.
“Nigeria has respect for the teams but we are not afraid of any team. By the Grace of God, Nigeria will top the group.”
Former Super Eagles midfielder, Mutiu Adepoju, added: “It looks accessible but we shouldn’t think everything will be done without playing matches. It is a tricky group and we should remember what Cape Verde did in the last Nations Cup.
“It is not going to be an easy ride for Nigeria. If we don’t put in our efforts and we underrate any of the teams, we may be surprised, as these countries can cause problems.”
Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr, said: “We’ve three tricky opponents in Group C. A few years ago, Cape Verde were Africa’s best Fifa ranked team, Central African Republic have some good players in Europe and we played a friendly in Liberia recently that wasn’t easy, so we have to be at our best against them.”
Midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, added: “This is the World Cup, no room for complacency. Every game must be taken seriously.
“Our first game is going to be the most important as well as all our home games and even away games. We must make it to the third round.”