A file photograph of Tremendous Eagles striker Kelechi Iheanacho.
Leicester Metropolis ahead Kelechi Iheanacho scored twice as Nigeria beat Liberia 2-0 in Lagos on Friday to go high of an African World Cup qualifying group.
He struck after 21 and 45 minutes for a nation that has competed at six of the final seven World Cup tournaments, with out ever getting previous the second spherical.
Each objectives within the Nigerian financial capital have been arrange by one other English Premier League star, Everton midfielder Alex Iwobi.
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Nigeria have been among the many luckier groups within the African group draw, being paired with Cape Verde, the Central African Republic and Liberia.
Solely Cape Verde, who drew away to the Central African Republic two days in the past and host Nigeria on Tuesday, are anticipated to mount a severe problem to the three-time African champions in Group C.
Iheanacho and eight different Britain-based Nigerians can not journey to Cape Verde as a result of the island state is on the UK coronavirus “purple checklist”.
Nigeria’s coach Gernot Rohr (R) speaks with Nigeria’s striker Victor Osimhen earlier than the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification soccer match between Nigeria and Liberia at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, on September 3, 2021. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP
Any footballer returning to Britain from a red-listed nation should quarantine for 10 days, and Premier League and Soccer League gamers have been barred from visiting such nations.
Germany-born Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr insists all three rivals are “tough opponents who we have now acquired to be at our greatest towards”.
“The job has been completed,” he mentioned, referring to the win over Liberia. “We needed to win our first recreation at house and we didn’t concede a objective.
“We will probably be with out 9 gamers (in Cape Verde) — which means will probably be one other staff and it’s not straightforward to construct a brand new staff inside days.
“We may also play on an artificial pitch. This will probably be a problem. It is going to be harder than towards Liberia.”
South Africa disappoint
In the meantime, South Africa drew 0-0 away to Zimbabwe in a scrappy Group G match that marked the debut of Belgian Hugo Broos as coach of underperforming Bafana Bafana (The Boys).
South Africa will probably be notable absentees from the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon in January having completed solely third in a gaggle from which Ghana and Sudan certified.
They face Ghana once more within the World Cup and, judged by the efficiency in Harare, are unlikely to complete above the west Africans.
South Africa threatened to attain solely twice — when a Teboho Mokoena shot was brilliantly fisted away by goalkeeper Talbert Shumba and when a goal-bound Bongokuhle Hlongwane shot was cleared.
Zimbabwe have been even much less harmful, worrying South African goalkeeper Ronwen Williams simply as soon as as Khama Billiat unleashed a close-range drive that was tipped over.
Later, Ghana edged Ethiopia 1-0 in Cape Coast by means of a Mubarak Wakaso objective on 35 minutes to occupy first place.
Zambia, one other staff that didn’t safe a spot on the upcoming Cup of Nations, made a formidable Group B debut by profitable 2-1 in Mauritania.
Enock Mpewu and Prince Mumba scored both aspect of half-time for the Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets) in Nouakchott earlier than Mamadou Niass halved the deficit.
Tunisia lead Zambia on objective distinction after Dylan Bronn, Ellyes Skhiri and captain Wahbi Khazri scored within the second half to ship a 3-0 victory over Equatorial Guinea in Rades.
Cameroon, whose seven World Cup appearances is an African file, started their Group D marketing campaign by beating Malawi 209 in Yaounde by means of objectives from Vincent Aboubakar and Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui.
In the identical part, an Ivory Coast aspect missing many first selections as a result of opponents Mozambique are on the British “purple checklist” drew 0-0 in Maputo, the place Max Gradel got here closest to scoring off a free-kick.
Saturday is a World Cup relaxation day in Africa and the 20-fixture second spherical kicks off on Sunday and lasts three days.