This international break which is coming to end was eventful. From the disruption of games due to government interruption, to the travel restrictions by top leagues to the case of 100 international matches, the world cup qualifiers were eventful. Away from my Arsenal worries, I will share my top highlights from this international break.
Super Eagles – 6/6
Nigeria took maximum points from their opening two games of the 2022 World Cup qualifier. First we defeated Liberia 2-0 at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos with Leicester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho with the goals. Former Arsenal midfielder got the assists for the two goals for the Super Eagles.
The pitch was an eyesore and the production on local television was awful. Teslim Balogun used to be a synthetic surface but the Super Eagles came calling after it was changed to natural turf. The rains had no mercy, just like the stadium that was re-commissioned in Ibadan. It was like a potato battle pitch.
Away from Lagos, the Super Eagles travelled without the British contingent but still got a three points from host Cape Verde. Nigeria benefited from two defensive blunders from the Blue Sharks to earn a 2-1 victory. Victor Osimhen cancelled out Cape Verde’s opener before a world class own goal gave Nigeria the three points.
One Hundred Appearances or Not
Prior to the Cape Verde game, it was all over the media that Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa will make his 100th international appearance for the Super Eagles in the match. But FIFA struck after the game to say his total for Nigeria is 98 apps.
The NFF who had initially issued a communique on the 100 apps, bowed to FIFA’s clarification and had to issue another communique. The clarification indicated that the a certain match against Togo in 2017 was not eligible as an international appearance because substitutions made in the match were in excess. Nigeria made 9 subs in that game as against the maximum 6 subs required for international A matches. Musa got a brace in that match.
The other game was the World Cup qualifier in which Nigeria fielded an ineligible player and thus forfeited 3 points and 3 goals to Algeria. That action almost cost Nigeria a place in the 2018 World Cup.
Back to the stats, indeed Musa made 100 apps but with those two matches falling short of FIFA’s guideline, he will have to feature in 2 more games to join Vincent Enyeama and Joseph Yobo in that echelon. We must also do better in our official record keeping and stats generation.
Romelu Lukaku also clocked 100 apps for Belgium. Congratulations.
The game between Brazil and Argentina was called off after Brazilian officials interrupted the game citing breaches to the Covid-19 protocol. In Africa, a military coup was completed in Guinea and thus the match between Guinea and Morocco was called off. These two matches indicate how football is only a subset of the society and will be affected by the decisions of the government.
Oh, Brazilian players will not be available for weekend actions in the English Premier League. Check your FPL teams now.
Surely there were various world cup qualifiers in this international break. England, Germany and the Netherlands went haywire. With only the top teams in each UEFA group progressing directly to Qatar 2022, the big teams are doing all they can to avoid the drama of a playoff.
That will be all for today. Ciao.