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5 lessons from latest CAF World Cup Qualifiers

Wednesday 6th September 2017
Another fiery round of CAF World Cup Qualifiers concluded Tuesday. Here are five talking points from the latest international break.

World Cup qualifiers bring out the very best in African football. The latest round saw some nations cement their grip on the all-important first place spot--it's win or go home, after all--in each group. A few continued to march up their respective tables. Many countries sadly kissed their qualifying hopes for the 2018 spectacle goodbye.

Here's what the week's matches taught us:

Super Eagles soar

Nigeria topped Group B going into the rounds. They emerged with their lead still intact.

Every country played a home-and-home tie over the break. The Super Eagles' double-header came against Cameroon. The first leg was held in Uyo. The Super Eagles sent their neighbours to the cleaners with a resounding 4-0 win.

The second leg, in Yaoundé, was a more even affair. The teams settled for a one-goal draw.

A point wasn't nearly enough to save the Indomitable Lions, who became the first team eliminated from the group stages.
Nigeria, on the other hand, know a positive result against Zambia next month on home soil could secure World Cup qualification status. The Chipolopolo kept their hopes alive with victory over Algeria. A win against Nigeria will still leave work to be done. The two nations would be level on points but the Nigerians hold a significant advantage in goal difference.

The Super Eagles have made an appearance in five of the last six FIFA World Cups. They are well on course to qualifying for next year's global showpiece event.

Ghana cling to life

The Blacks Stars went into Group E's fixtures with their qualifying hopes for a fourth successive World Cup hanging by a thread. The Ghanaians trailed group leaders Egypt by five points, having drawn and suffered a defeat in their opening two games.

The West Africans knew they couldn't afford to drop any more points and still qualify for next year's event. A 1-1 Friday draw in Kumasi against the group's whipping boys, Congo, didn't do much to lift spirits. Tuesday's 5-1 thrashing was more like it from the Black Stars.

Victory sees Ghana close the gap on the Egyptians to four points. The Black Stars remain very much on the outside. Yet, with Uganda also in the thick of things, matters are building to a very intriguing finale.

Groups C and D going down to the wire

D is for Death. This group has been the most dramatic among CAF World Cup qualifiers.

Cape Verde entered the break group bottom but emerged level with leaders Burkina Faso. The Blue Sharks dealt South Africa successive 2-1 defeats in the space of four days. Despite now acting as the group's anchor, Bafana Bafana remain just two points off the pace.

World Cup qualification remains possible for each side. Strategy for both Burkina Faso and Cape Verde is simple. Win their remaining games. The two face-off in the final match with the Stallions currently ahead on goal difference. Senegal and South Africa will both need help. It should be a thrilling conclusion.
Group C isn't quite so tight. Still, all four teams remain capable of qualifying. Mali would need a perfect storm to rip through the other three sides, however. The ultimate battle for who wins the group will likely be when Morocco journeys to Cote d'Ivoire in November.

Two-nation race in Group A

With Libya and Guinea eliminated, Group A has become a race between Tunisia and the DRC. But then, right from the onset, we knew it would be one of these two to qualify.

The Tunisians top the group on 10 points, three ahead of DR Congo. It might have been a different story had the Leopards been able to hold their nerve after going 2-0 up on Tuesday night. Instead, they allowed the Carthage Eagles to claw their way back. Now, they must emerge three points the better in the pair's matches against the two eliminated countries. At least, DR Congo hold an edge in goal difference.

No World Cup for Desert Foxes

Africa's top-ranked nation won't be making an appearance in next year's global showpiece. Algeria were eliminated on Tuesday in front of their own fans.

The North Africans have endured a miserable World Cup qualifying campaign which has seen them permanently occupy Group B's cellar. The Algerians 1-0 defeat at home to Zambia was their third in four qualifiers.
For all the talent they possess, including Leicester City stars Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani, the Foxes did nothing to suggest they should be in Russia next year. Mahrez and Slimani didn't exert their influence, affecting the entire team. Algeria can only play for pride, assuming they still have any, in their remaining two games against Cameroon and Nigeria.
Adoyi Joshua Adoyi

Adoyi is a Nigerian with a keen passion for sports  - more so football and is an avid supporter of Manchester United. He spends his weekends glued to his TV screen, watching the beautiful game.

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