Thursday Oct 07, 2021. 20:30
Central African Republic recorded their biggest upset of Africa’s 2022 World Cup Qualification tournament thus far, defeating Nigeria 1-0 in a Group C clash at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos on Thursday evening.
The result means the four teams in the group are now covered by just three points (after Cape Verde’s away win over Liberia earlier in the day), with the Super Eagles top on six points, the Blue Sharks and Wild Beasts level on four apiece, and the Lone Star on three points.
Nigeria dominated possession and created most of the attacking play through the first half, though they struggled to find clear openings with which to threaten CAR goalkeeper Prince Samolah.
The strike pairing of Kelechi Iheanacho and Victor Osimhen had little in the way of quality supply and were forced into speculative long-range efforts for the most part.
One such example saw Iheanacho send a low drive wide of the mark on 35 minutes – the Leicester City striker limped off soon afterwards but was able to return and continue playing.
By this stage Nigeria had begun to assert more dominance and create pressure, with Moses Simon becoming a more influential figure with his penetration down the flank.
However, the Wild Beasts were able to hold out – with some great work from Sadock Ndobe and Peter Guinari – to see the game locked at 0-0 heading into the interval.
Nigeria’s Iheanacho was withdrawn from the game at half time, with Taiwo Awoniyi replacing the attacker at the start of the second stanza, while Simon continued to find space and had the first shot in anger after the restart, sending an effort wide on 50 minutes.
Shortly thereafter the Super Eagles created an opening for Osimhen, who saw his shot rebound off the upright and fall kindly for Awoniyi, but the substitute was denied a debut goal by a brilliant block from Ngam Saint Cyr.
CAR nearly claimed the lead against the run of play midway through the second half, but substitute Karl Namnganda was denied by a fine save from ‘keeper Francis Uzoho, having out-sprinted Leon Balogun to a flick-on.
The visitors had another threatening moment in attack in the 84th minute when substitute Henock Damona powered forward, but he was unable to take the right option and punish Nigeria’s absent defence.
It seemed CAR’s hopes of a stunning away win had passed, but in the final minute of regulation time Namnganda capitalised on a ball into space and a slip from Balogun, whipping a shot past Uzoho to silence the Lagos crowd and seal victory for the visitors.
The teams will meet in the reverse fixture at the Limbe Stadium in Cameroon (with CAR’s usual home venue deemed unsuitable by CAF) on Sunday 10 October.
CAR (0) 1 (Namnganda 90’)
Nigeria: Uzoho, Aina, Aribo (Musa 80’), Balogun, Collins, Ejuke, Iheanacho (Awoniyi 46’), Onyeka, Osimhen, Simon (Kalu 72’), Troost-Ekong
CAR: Samolah, Ban, Georgino (Damona 81’), Grengou (Namnganda 56’), Guinari, Ndobe, Ndokomanji (Gaopandia 68’), Niamathe, Saint Cyr, Toropite (Ngoma 80’), Yangao