AFCON 2019: Not yet uhuru for Eagles

After picking six maximum points in a two-legged qualifying duel against the Mediterranean Knights of Libya last week in Uyo and earlier this week in Sfax Tunisia, Nigeria’s Super Eagles are now standing a good chance of making it to 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) scheduled for 2019 in Cameroon.

Their performance which has eventually placed them on high and they are topping group E, where Seychelles, Libya and South Africa are other foes. Many football loving Nigerians are now growing in confidence than previously before their team faced North-African side, home and away.

As it stands, nothing is squarely guaranteed in that group (technically), although, Nigeria are better off than others with one point. Whether they will finally make it to Cameroon next year, Stakeholders have agreed that the outcome of their remaining two clashes against South Africa and Seychelles could still be the determining factor.

Now, this is the available options – Nigeria with nine points so far needs at least one more outright victory or draw against either South Africa or Seychelles to comfortably scale through with 10 or 12 points. However, a victory in both matches or a victory and a draw in both Games will ensure that the largest African Nation finish as group best. This will equally place Nigeria on seeding position when draws for 2019 Nation’s Cup is made.

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Soccer miracle and expectations

The only option that could rule Nigeria out as long as the group E current standing is concerned is if Libya with four points wins their remaining two encounters against Seychelles and South Africa, then Nigeria loses its games with South Africa and Seychelles.

However, the general believe was that since Super Eagles had missed AFCON two times, back-to-back (2015 and 2017), the onus lie with them not to allow this opportunity slip off their hands.

Ardent Super Eagles follower, Paul Okah is of the view that though there is no impossibility in football, it would take an outright miracle for Libya to overtake Nigeria and qualify for 2019 AFCON.

“Upset usually happens in football but this time around, I believe that our team know what is at stake. How can Seychelles they beat at their home ground come to Nigeria and win. It’s very difficult to imagine.

“For South Africa, anything can happen especially this time they will be playing in front of their fans but all Nigeria needs is to make they beat Seychelles and every other permutation will lie low.”

Super Eagles number Goalkeeper, Francis Uzoho after the Libya double header admitted that next month’s 2019 AFCON qualifier in South Africa will not be easy.

While reflecting on the Libya clash, the Spain-based shot stopper said the Eagles found the Libyans a lot tougher in Tunisia.

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According to him, “Personally, the match in Tunisia was more difficult than the one in Uyo,” said Uzoho, who pulled off a string of saves to keep Nigeria in the game.

“The weather was different and it was a much smaller pitch than what we have in Uyo and so we did not have enough space to run at the Libyan defence in Tunisia and so they were able to somehow contain us.”

Group E leaders Nigeria now travel to South Africa on November 17 in Johannesburg in continuation of the 2019 AFCON qualifiers.

“The Eagles will take the game against South Africa very seriously because we have never underrated any team we have come up against. We know it won’t be an easy game,” He added.

Key Super Eagles Midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi is a big blow  for the team after it was confirmed that he would miss 2019 Africa Cup Of Nations qualifier against South Africa on November 17 in Johannesburg’s Soccer City Stadium over card suspension.

Ndidi received his second straight yellow card in the qualifying series in Tuesday’s 3-2 win against Libya at the Taïeb M’hiri Stadium, Sfax, Tunisia.

The Leicester City midfielder was cautioned in the reverse fixture in Uyo when the Super Eagles were emphatic with a 4-0 win over the Mediterranean Knights.

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How Sfax war was won and lost

In Sfax, Tunisia, where Nigeria eventually won Libya 3-2, Super Eagles surrendered a two-goal lead in the encounter.

A simple tap-in from Odion Ighalo in the 14th minute and a close-range strike from Ahmed Musa three minutes later gave the Rohr’s men a two-goal lead, but Mohamed Zubya and Ahmed Ben Ali drew the Mediterranean Knights level.

With nine minutes left to play, a brilliant solo effort from Ighalo nicked the maximum points for the Super Eagles.

Technical Adviser, Gernor Rohr, “I congratulate my team for this victory. It was a huge test of our character,” Rohr was quoted on the official Twitter handle of the Super Eagles after the game.

“We lost a two-goal lead but fought hard instead of dropping our heads. We will stay humble because we have not qualified for AFCON yet. We keep fighting.”

The Super Eagles will host Seychelles in their final Group E match in March next year.


Qualified teams

Already, six teams including Guinea, Egypt, Tunisia, debutant Madagascar, Senegal and host Cameroon have qualified.


Group E table standing

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
 Nigeria 4 3 1 10 4 +6 9
 South Africa 4 2 2 8 +8 8
 Libya 4 1 1 2 7 8 −1 4
 Seychelles 4 1 3 1 14 −13 1


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