Monday, March 25, 2013

2014 World Cup qualifiers:Nigeria and Malawi in tight race for the tickets


African Champions, Super Eagles of Nigeria were rescued by a last-gasp equalizer on Saturday during their match in home soil Calabar, Nigeria against Kenya in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers. With the results from Saturday’s game, the Super Eagles now have 5 points from three games, and sit at the top of Group F with Malawi who won over Namibia 1-0 in Windhoek. 

Malawi’s new standing could be cause for worry for Nigeria as the current African Champions are ahead in group F only because they scored more goals than their closest rivals (Malawi) – Nigeria scored three goals while Malawi have netted two goals.  No doubt, the draw in Calabar puts Nigeria in a tight corner; The Super Eagles now have two away games and a home match to reach the knockout stage of the qualifying series which will be played in October and November. The earliest will be against the Harambee Stars of Kenya on June 5 and a week later, they are due back on the road to play Namibia. On the other hand, Malawi has 2 home matches and a final group match game against rivals Nigeria which is coming up in September.

These matches could well determine their ability to grab  the ticket to the 2014 World Cup, the Group F is quite interesting and for now, nothing is really certain, while Nigeria and Malawi sit atop the group with 5 points each, Namibia are on 3 points, and with their improved performance, Kenya increased their tally to 2 points in the group. Well, the hope here is that both Kenya and Namibia will be out of the race in order for Nigeria or Malawi to get a clearer picture, however both Kenya and Namibia have a chance of bouncing back in the race with a home win. Kenya still has two home games against Nigeria and Namibia with a trip to Malawi in between these games.
 
To make things clearer for Nigeria, they will have to win one of their road games in order to top the group and stay a few steps ahead of Malawi. The Super Eagles will have to go all out and win the nine points in order to be safe.