Nigeria have become the first African side to book their place at 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia after a 1-0 win over Zambia in Uyo earned them an unassailable lead at the head of Group B.
Alex Iwobi repeated his feat of being the thorn in the Zambians’ side, once again finding himself on the scoresheet against the Chipolopolo. Having scored in the first Group B game between the sides, he came off the bench in the second half to end Zambian hopes of creating a final day climax on 6 November, instead seeing the Super Eagles book a spot at their sixth finals.
Seen by many as the toughest group of the continent’s five qualifying tables, Nigeria have been dominant, remaining unbeaten throughout and only dropping points thanks to a Cameroonian penalty on the road in Yaounde. The 4-0 win a few days earlier against the reigning African champions was a particular highlight.
With a rich youthful streak through the side, seeing the likes of Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Moses Simon score crucial goals throughout qualifying, there will be something of a fresh feel to the side who have only missed one tournament – Germany 2006 – since their debut in 1994.
Led by the seasoned John Obi Mikel, who made his belated World Cup debut at Brazil 2014, they will hoping to better their Round of 16 exit from three years ago – the furthest stage they have reached, having also done so in their first two appearances.