After finishing atop their group, Nigeria was drawn against Ghana for the knockout and final round of the CAF World Cup Qualifications. Nigeria went into this tie as the favourites. Seeing Ghana’s abysmal performance at this year’s AFCON, it was expected that Nigeria would get the better of them but this was not to be the case.

The first leg in Ghana was a drab affair and ended goalless. The second leg match on the 29th of March took place in Abuja, Nigeria. But Nigeria failed to make their home advantage count, falling behind early on to a goal from Thomas Partey. They eventually got back into the game, after a soft penalty was converted by William Troost-Ekong and Nigeria was the better team for most of this match. The lack of cutting edge showed as the team couldn’t get the crucial second goal as Ghana held on to advance to the next stage based on the away goals rule.

After the game, Nigerian fans stormed the pitch, destroying everything in their path. Some suggests that this wasn’t just because the country failed to qualify but it was as a result of the culmination of events that had been happening around the country and this was the final straw for some.

Elsewhere on the continent, Senegal beat Egypt on penalties to qualify, Mane scoring the winning penalty just like in the AFCON earlier this year. Cameroon also edged Algeria with a last minute goal to advance. Morocco qualified as well with a comprehensive win over DR Congo and Tunisia’s first leg win over Mali was enough to see them through.

In Europe, Portugal and Poland both won 2-0 to qualify for the So Cup with the last Qualifying tie postponed till the next international break due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. 

Ifeanyichukwu Achife